Sentencing to serve symbolism: the Protect and Serve Act

Moving rapidly through Congress with bipartisan backing: “a new bill modeled after a federal hate crime statute would make it a crime to intentionally target a law enforcement officer based on his ‘actual or perceived status’ as one.” [Emanuella Grinberg, CNN]

I argued in 2015 that this idea is a very bad one, as well as unneeded, even at the state and local level. Beyond that, doing it as a federal enactment is of dubious constitutionality [Ilya Somin] More: office of Sen. Orrin Hatch (quoting Fraternal Order of Police chief Chuck Canterbury on bill’s being “modeled after the federal hate crime statute”). Killings of police in the line of duty declined last year and are at far lower levels than in the 1970s and 1980s, setting 50-year lows by some standards.


  • “Perceived Status”? So if I drive around in a car made to look like an unmarked police car and someone gives me the finger, they’ve committed a hate crime?

    • Prosecution under this law requires that they at least attempt to inflict “serious bodily injury”. So if they pulled you out of the car and started beating on you, it could apply; if all they do is give you the finger, it wouldn’t.

      The law is, however, totally unnecessary. I’m fairly sure it’s already illegal in all 50 states to inflict serious bodily injury on a police officer. I’m also fairly sure that the police are not shy about pressing charges when that sort of thing happens – if anything, they’re overzealous.