Anyone who targets a law enforcement officer or other emergency responder in New Jersey because of their jobs would be charged with a hate crime, under a proposal by State Sen. Joe Kyrillos.
The proposed legislation follows a string of ambushes and deadly attacks on police.
The effect would be to stiffen the penalties against those who target public servants in the emergency services.
Under New Jersey’s existing hate crime laws, offenders face additional sentences of up to three times the prison sentence for the conviction on the original charge.
“We depend on police officers and first responders to protect and serve our communities, and they deserve to know that we have their backs,” Kyrillos said Monday. “We cannot allow an entire class of public servants to be targeted for violence due to their profession.
"If such attacks don’t qualify as hate crimes, I don’t know what does."
New Jersey State PBA President Patrick Colligan today praised the measure on behalf of the union's 33,000 members.
“The horrific events in Dallas were a stark reminder that members of law enforcement and other first responders can be targeted in the very communities they protect and serve simply because of the uniform they wear," Colligan said.
The enhanced penalties, he said, would be "a welcome potential deterrent."
State PBA members "hope to see this legislation passed on a bi-partisan basis upon introduction and then signed by Governor Christie as quickly as possible,” Colligan said.
“All loss of life is tragic -- including the recent circumstances in Louisiana and Minnesota," said Kyrillos, who represents the state's 13th District, which mostly covers Monmouth County. "But the specific targeting of police is especially outrageous.
“We hold law enforcement to an incredibly high standard, and the overwhelming majority of officers exceed our expectations despite the difficult and confusing situations they face every day,” he added. “It’s a tough job and it deserves the highest respect from all of us.”
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.