Yesterday I had a discussion about a bill proposal back home in Louisiana. HB 953 amends provisions of state law regarding hate crimes. Specifically the “Proposed law retains present law and adds the victim is selected based upon their actual or perceived employment as a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical services personnel.” Furthermore, the bill defines “emergency medical services personnel”, “firefighter”, and “law enforcement officer.”
Let’s leave out the poor definitions which exclude many, if not a majority, of the firefighters and first responders in the state for whom this proposal is supposed to protect. Volunteers who are the fire departments in the rural areas with which I’m most familiar are not covered given the working definition of the term “employed” within state government terminology.
Let’s even agree to disagree about any form of “War on Cops” or whatever terminology. Unfortunately many media sources fail to review statistics before writing headlines. I’m saying agree to disagree because any law enforcement, firefighter, or first responder being the target of intentional violence is too many. Any individual is one too many.
How though would this law protect anyone?
If New York had that law would it have saved the lives of those first responders who unknowingly went directly into an ambush back in 2012?
Would it have saved the life of John Ulmschneider over in Prince George’s County who lost his life when he responded to a medical alert call and was allegedly mistaken as an intruder and shot by the resident?
Would it have saved the life of Ashley Guindon over in Prince William County of neighboring Virginia when she and colleagues responded to a domestic disturbance call?
Yes I would like to do something to protect individuals involved these professions regardless of whether they are employed or volunteer. I would like to protect others from senseless acts of violence. I pray that one day “hate crimes” will only be a topic that I shock students with in history courses because such acts of hate and violence no longer exist in the present.
HB 953, however, does not protect a single individual, and it does not address any of the actual problems of violence.
It’s only a fancy and pretty little band aid that isn’t even applied to a wound, boo boo, or “owey.” HB 953 only distracts from trying to address actual causes of senseless violence.
While Louisiana is the only state of which I am aware of such a proposal, the House of Representatives has a somewhat similar bill in committee in the House of Representatives. HR 4760, “Blue Lives Matter Act of 2016,” only adds law enforcement officers to existing hate crime laws.
HB 953 back in Louisiana and HR 4760 in Congress are not types of miracle legislation. Members of the Louisiana state legislature and the House of Representatives in Congress should know that they are simply avoiding many of the hard decisions that must be made.
Personal Note: In regard to the safety of people in the professions of law enforcement, firefighters, first responders, and other emergency and safety positions, a number of resources exist detailing the different dangers both in narrative form and statistically. Some of areas of accidents, personal injury, and violence surprised me. Parts of their work that I would think to be more dangerous are not as dangerous as other aspects statistically. While the term has become a “dirty” word in the modern era among many, I would like to see more emphasis placed upon the Progressive idea where the workers out in the field, on the front lines, “educate” our elected officials about things that would truly make their jobs safer and us as civilians safer.