The New York State Senate has passed a bill that would make it illegal for people in the State to “annoy” police officers; critics believe the bill, if passed by the State’s other legislative body, will enable police to abuse their power.
The bill, sponsored by Republican State Senator Joe Griffo, would make it a felony offense to “harass, annoy, or threaten a police officer while on duty.”
“Our system of laws is established to protect the foundations of our society,” Griffo said. “Police officers who risk their lives every day in our cities and on our highways deserve every possible protection, and those who treat them with disrespect, harass them and create situations that can lead to injuries deserve to pay a price for their actions.”
The lawmaker believes “too many people in our society have lost the respect they need to have for a police officer.”
The bill does state that in order for the harassment charge to be levied, a police officer would have to feel physically threatened by his heckler.
From the bill:
Police officers in the State have lauded the bill.
“Professionally, I am grateful to see this bill pass through the Senate. Our police officers have a very dangerous job and need the support of our government leaders to help make them safe,” said Utica Police Department Chief Mark Williams. “All too often persons are physically challenging police officers in the line of duty. Currently in those instances where an officer is physically attack (short of sustaining a physical injury) the lawful charge is only a violation.”
While the physical threat aspect of the bill seems clear, many people have cited police incidents in which officers manufactured a threat in order to use heavy handed tactics. One recent example is that of the encounter a hearing-impaired Washington woman had with police when she was pulled over for allegedly using her cell phone while driving. When her disability kept her from hearing an officer’s orders and she jerked away when he grabbed her wrist, another cop promptly delivered a hefty beat down while shouting “Stop resisting!”, a phrase officers seem to love in those sorts of situations.
Perhaps in New York, cops will soon have a new phrase to shout as they bludgeon residents: Stop annoying me!