New York Lawmakers Want to Make It a Felony to 'Annoy' a Police Officer
The New York State Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would make it a felony to hit a police officer with intent to “annoy.”
Senate bill 2402 would establish the crime of “aggravated harassment,” punishable by up to four years in prison. According to the bill, a person would be guilty of “aggravated harassment” if they struck, kicked or otherwise subjected an officer to “physical contact” with intent to “harass, annoy, threaten or alarm.”
In a press release, bill sponsor Sen. Joe Griffin (R-Rome) said, “All too often persons are physically challenging police officers in the line of duty. Currently in those instances where an officer is physically attacked (short of sustaining a physical injury) the lawful charge is only a violation. The consequences are way too low for the offender and it sends the wrong message to the public.”
The bill’s vague language could have troubling implications for certain communities that already face dishonest policing practices, mostly consisting of poor, black and Latino citizens. It’s not hard to imagine a scenario where an officer could abuse the “intent” portion of the law to—as Gawker’s Max Read puts it—“arrest and convict people on a very thin pretext!”
Having passed the Senate, the bill will now go to New York’s General Assembly.