The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), which is the country’s largest police union, is calling for Congress to classify crimes against police officers as hate crimes. To be sure, they’re saying that anti-police bias would have to be the motivation behind the crime for it to qualify as a hate crime. Anti-police bias is something that’s growing in this country, as more and more stories about police brutality come to light.
FOP president Chuck Canterbury said, according to Yahoo! News:
“Enough is enough! It’s time for Congress to do something to protect the men and women who protect us.”
Yahoo! News also reports that 21.7 percent of the non-accidental police deaths that have occurred since 2004 came from ambush attacks, like the one carried out against NYPD Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. The FOP argues that these types of crimes against police officers are indeed motivated by a hatred of police.
The case for classifying crimes against police officers as hate crimes.
Committing a crime against someone because of their skin color, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability is considered a hate crime under federal law. These things don’t necessarily have to be true; they can be a misperception on your part. For instance, beating a boy to death because you thought he was gay, even if it turns out he wasn’t, is still considered a hate crime, because your motivation was a hatred of gays.
While these things aren’t choices, and becoming a police officer is, that doesn’t mean officers deserve to die simply because they’re officers. We can apply that to other occupations as well: Who deserves to die simply because they chose a specific occupation? Do workers in a clinic that performs abortions deserve to die at the hands of anti-abortion extremists, even if they never had a hand in performing an abortion (such as the janitor)?
In short, deciding that innocent people should die because we hate their profession, and deciding that everybody in that profession is, at the very least, guilty by association, can fall under the concept of a hate crime. We have a lot of good police officers out there who don’t deserve to die at the hands of a madman, just because of guilt by association.
The case against classifying crimes against police officers as hate crimes.
On the other hand, the federal hate crimes law (along with state laws) exists to protect minorities from violence spurred by hatred and fear from extremists in the majority. Ethnic minorities, members of the LGBT community, the disabled, they all need the protection of such a law because it’s too easy to hurt them and justify it with fear of what they represent.
Besides that, we have laws in place for murders that aren’t hate crimes, which should bring an officer’s murderer to justice anyway. We can’t say the same for those who murdered Michael Brown and Eric Garner (and others), because grand juries are notoriously unwilling to indict police officers. So, given that, do police officers deserve that kind of protection under the law?
It’s true that police brutality is a major problem, but killing innocent officers out of pure hatred isn’t the answer. Placing them under the protection of the federal hate crimes law is another beast altogether; there are a ton of problems that need to be addressed in departments at every level, before we consider putting them under the protection of federal hate crimes laws.
So, the question, then, is, should crimes against police officers, which are motivated by anti-police bias, be considered hate crimes under the law? What do you think, readers?