Burns introduces bill to make assault on police a hate crime

Corrections, probation and parole officers covered as well

HARRISBURG, July 12 – Buoyed by its swift netting of 11 co-sponsors in one day, state Rep. Frank Burns has introduced his Blue Lives Matter legislation to elevate assault on police, corrections, probation and parole officers to hate-crime status.

In the works weeks before the tragic Dallas sniper attack that killed five police officers and wounded seven others, H.B. 2261 would fulfill Burns’ vision of creating added deterrence. It would put employment as a law enforcement officer on par with race, color, religion and national origin as covered classes under Pennsylvania’s hate crimes law.

The legislation would make an attack against one of the listed law enforcement officers an offense one degree higher than it currently is; for example, a second-degree misdemeanor would become a first-degree misdemeanor.

“I’ve already heard from a few outside of my district who aren’t happy with this legislation, but I believe it’s necessary to send a clear, unwavering signal of support for those who risk their lives to protect us,” Burns said. “Their job is dangerous enough as it is. If we expect police to go to work every day with an intentional target on their back, then it won’t be long before no one will want to be a police officer.”

As there is nothing partisan about the goal of H.B. 2261, Burns said the bill has strong bipartisan support and deserves to move swiftly through the legislative committee approval and House vote processes.

“I can’t imagine any legislative leader wanting to bottle this up or bog it down for any reason,” Burns said. “The response I’ve gotten within the 72nd Legislative District has been overwhelmingly positive, and those are the folks I represent in Harrisburg.”