Home » House committee passes bill to make attacks on first responders a hate crime

House committee passes bill to make attacks on first responders a hate crime

Goes before full House

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 8, 2017) — A House committee today advanced House Bill 14 to make it a hate crime to assault, kidnap, or commit certain other violent offenses against first responders. Currently only the legally-protected classes of race, color, religion and national origin, as well as sexual orientation, are covered under the state’s hate crime statute.

“I just think we need to show if you attack one of our first responders, you’re going to get the full brunt of the law,” said House Majority Whip Kevin Bratcher (R-Louisville), who sponsored the bill.

Rep. Joni Jenkins (D-Shively), voted against the bill in committee. She said she understands the urge to pass the bill as a “philosophical pat on the back,” but said real help for officers would come from safeguarding their pensions and reducing gun and drug crime.

Speaking in favor of HB 14 was Rep. Robert Benvenuti (R-Lexington), who said the bill would offer first responders protection under the law even when they are not “engaged,” or involved in a physical action, with a suspect.

“We’re not talking about a situation where a police officer is involved in an action—there are already crimes for that when they are killed or injured,” said Benvenuti. “We’re talking about executions of individuals because of the shield they have on their chest. Nobody… ought to be subject to execution because they put on a badge in the morning.”

HB 14 now goes to the full House for its consideration.