A Mississippi Senate judiciary committee approved a “Blue Lives Matter” bill aimed at protecting police officers and first responders Tuesday.
The bill, called Senate Bill 2469, would make it a hate crime to target law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians, reports The Clarion-Ledger.
Current Mississippi state law says that any person who kills a police officer can get the death penalty, said Sean Tindell, chairman of the state Senate Judiciary Committee. He added that the new bill would increase punishments for any person convicted of certain crimes against officers.
“I think this is the perfect avenue to protect our law enforcement and tell people that it you target them, we’re going to come down on you,” Tindell explained.
One state representative tried to change the bill to only apply to uniformed law enforcement officers, but failed. The committee also passed on a change suggested by state Sen. Barbara Blackmon, who wanted officers to be charged with a hate crime if they kill someone while not following proper police procedures.
“We want to give them, under color of law, enhanced protection,” Blackmon said about police officers. “But when they do wrong, under color of law, we won’t penalize them.”
The Mississippi Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union also took issue with the bill.
“It’s unnecessary, but if it’s going to pass, it should have First Amendment protections and it should be only for uniformed officers,” Erik Fleming, a chief lobbyist for the organization, said.
More states are gearing up to pass “Blue Lives Matters” bill to protect their police officers. A Pennsylvania state representative introduced a bill that would add extra penalties for targeting an officer. (RELATED:Pro-Police ‘Blue Lives Matter’ Bills Gain Steam Nationwide)
“This is intolerable and I believe we should extend the same additional protection we now provide to crimes motivated by hatred of a person’s race, religion or ethnicity to crimes motivated by the victim’s service in a police department, professional or volunteer fire department or emergency medical services provider,” state Rep. David Zimmerman declared.
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