- The Washington Times - Monday, May 23, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In 56 large U.S. cities last year, there was 17 percent spike in homicides from the year before. In 10 cities, with large black populations, murder rates swelled 33 percent.

Why the spike?

FBI Director James Comey partially blames the “Ferguson Effect,” that is “marginal pullbacks by lots and lots of officers,” for fear they will be labeled a racist for simply doing their jobs. For anti-cop rhetoric, perpetuated by groups like Black Lives Matter, is at an all-time high after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.

Although Mr. Brown’s claim of “hands up don’t shoot,” has since been discredited, and Darren Wilson, the former officer who shot Mr. Brown, has been exonerated, the narrative of cops targeting minorities has been pervasive in the mainstream media, casting a negative light on the entire law-enforcement community. So, cops have pulled back, and as they’ve pulled back, murder rates have climbed.

In an effort to buoy the law enforcement community, lawmakers in Louisiana have passed a bill to make their state the first to officially expand its hate crime law to protect officers as well. The “Blue Lives Matter” bill increases the penalty for attacking current or retired police officers, firefighters and emergency medical practitioners.

Unfortunately, the legislation is largely redundant, will add greater confusion to the law, and does little to solve the problem it was meant to address: encouraging police officers to do their jobs without fear of political retaliation.

I’m not saying an attack against a law-enforcement officer shouldn’t be punishable more than one against a private citizen. An attack against the police is an attack against the greater society at large, since officers are the country’s guardians, the protectors of civility and upholders of the nation’s laws in its neighborhoods and communities.

It’s just in most states, a crime against an officer is more punishable than a regular citizen.

Thirty-seven states, including Louisiana, have enhanced penalties for criminals assaulting police officers. In Louisiana, attempting to steal from a cop results in a year of jail and thousands in fines, and a failed attempt to kill an officer can land the criminal in prison for at least twenty years, “without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.”

By expanding the state’s definition of a hate crime, five extra years in jail and $5,000 in fines could be added to the perpetrators sentence.

Would these increased fines and jail time have prevented the ambush and murder of New York City police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos? I don’t think so. The root of that crime was because of the deep, cultural divide that has engulfed our country since the Black Lives Matter narrative has taken hold. It’s not so easily remedied.

Louisiana’s expanded hate-crime statute also adds confusion to the legal system because unlike a crime being committed against a minority or homosexual, it’s harder to prove intent or bias with a cop.

Yes, some police hate-crime cases may be crystal clear (like those of Liu and Ramos) — but many more might be hazy, leading to the increased, longer incarceration of more people.

You see, police officers are involved, on a daily basis, in disputes. If they’re injured in one of them, what makes that persons’ a hate-crime, versus a criminal just being a criminal (e.g., trying to break out of police custody, an attack made high on drugs, or drunk)?

Officers know their jobs are risky, and that at any point their lives may come under threat — and yet they’ve willingly and selflessly chosen their profession.

Yes, they are heroes. Yes, they deserve to be honored, respected, and given the benefit of the doubt.

But including their names in hate-law legislation won’t accomplish any of these things.

So what is the answer? There’s no simple one.

First, the press needs to do a better job at covering and heralding examples of successful policing, instead of giving disproportionate time and attention to the agitators. Sympathizing, even.

Parents of minority children need to better explain to them that cops aren’t their enemies, but the guardians of their community.

Officers should physically represent — to the best of their ability — the communities of which they police. Police stations need to volunteer and integrate their personal into the lives of the people they protect — volunteer more at churches, schools and after-school events. And cops who do wrong, should be punished — transparently.

Is any one of these answers a panacea? No, but they do more collectively to advance police causes vis-a-vis a cultural standpoint than does Louisiana’s “Blue Lives Matter” bill.

For all that legislation does is make its lawmakers feel good.

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