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Lawmakers introduce bill adding hate crimes against first responders

New York State Sen. Patrick Gallivan is among a trio of lawmakers introducing the Community Heroes Protection Act in New York. The act would designate crimes that specifically target police, firefighters and other emergency service workers punishable as hate crimes. The Community Heroes Protection Act classifies crimes as hate crimes if they are intentionally aimed at first responders based upon the profile of their career. As a hate crime, the level of punishment would increases on a conviction.

"I am deeply troubled by incidents in New York and across the country where men and women in uniform have been targeted because of who they represent, when in fact they represent all of us," said the Elma Republican, former state trooper and former Erie County Sheriff. "By imposing stiffer penalties on those who perpetrate such crimes, we are sending a clear message that we stand with law enforcement and other emergency personnel who put their lives on the line in an effort to build safer communities for everyone.”

The lawmakers cited researchers who have found a 68% increase in firearms-related fatalities among law enforcement between 2015 and 2016, bringing the total number of officers who were fatally shot in 2016 to 64. Also, they cited a National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians report that more than half of medical technicians claimed to have been injured by assault.

"Law enforcement officers, correction officers, firefighters and emergency medical service personnel expose themselves to danger each and every day," said New York State Association of Chiefs of Police President David Zack. "Each understood the risk when they took the job. It is only right that the Legislature and the Governor do all each can to deter those who wish to do these heroes harm based solely on the hatred they possess for those who play such a vital role in our American society."