Police officers put their safety on the line every day to protect the communities they serve. But recent events across the country have placed them and other first responders in the cross hairs of criminals who want to hurt them.
Two Illinois state lawmakers say they want police to know they have the support of the government, which is why they’re behind a pair of proposals that would make harming a first responder a hate crime.
“Blue lives matter is just an addendum there,” says Assistant Deputy Chief and District Chief of District One, Carla Redd, from the Rockford Police Department, speaking about Senate Bill 1380 and House Bill 0633.
The recently introduced bills would offer legal protections to law enforcement and emergency services personnel.
“What this bill is really saying is that it is vital that we make sure that we protect our police officers who are out protecting us every day,” said Senator Dave Syverson.
The bills would amend the Criminal Code so that if an officer finds themselves the victim of an attack, be it physical, verbal, or cyber, it would be classified as a hate crime under the new legislation.
“What this bill does is for the person that actually targets law enforcement, for the person that actually goes after a law enforcement officer, a fireman, or an EMT,” said State Representative John Cabello, who filed House Bill 0633. “We want some harsher penalties for the folks that are going after the people that protect us.”
Cabello, a Rockford P.D. officer himself, understands how they can become targets.
“You have those offenders out there that make threats towards law enforcement just because of the position they hold,” said Assistant Deputy Chief Redd.
If passed, the bills would hold tougher penalties for offenders.
Redd says it feels good knowing legislators have their backs.
“I think it’ll make law enforcement feel better knowing that legislation is at least seeing it and recognizing it as being an issue.”