A powerful police union, the National Fraternal Order of Police, demands Congress include the killing of cops in the federal hate crime act.
The law, 18 U.S. Code § 249, considers offenses “involving actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin” as hate crimes.
“Right now, it’s a hate crime if you attack someone solely because of the color of their skin, but it ought to be a hate crime if you attack someone solely because of the color of their uniform as well,” Jim Pasco, the executive director of the organization, wrote in a letter to Obama and Congressional leaders this week.
The Obama administration responded by saying the initiative is “something that we’ll have to consider.”
Obama spokesman Josh Earnest said a task force convened on 21st Century policing will consider the call to make violence against police a hate crime.
Police want the designation despite the fact killings of police officers have fallen since the 1970s along with the rate of violent crime in general.
“Even with a slight increase in the number of on-duty fatalities last year, law enforcement remains a much safer occupation than many worthier jobs in the productive sector,” writes William Norman Griggs.
“The violent death of a police officer is somewhat similar to a plane crash: It is an infrequent occurrence that attracts intensive media coverage, thereby distorting public perceptions of risk. Plane crashes are rare; highway fatalities happen every day. A similar comparison could be made between the murder of police officers and police killings of citizens.”
Police unions and the federal government are not prepared to address the far more serious problem of police violence against citizens and the correlation of this violence to the militarization of police around the country.
A report produced by the Obama administration in the wake of Ferguson and the response of police to peaceful protesters calls for better documentation and transparency.
“What the report doesn’t recommend is scaling back the programs in any notable or significant way,” writes Scott Shackford. “It appears as though the White House is trying to have it both ways on police militarization, calling for reforms without having to tackle the issues surrounding whether it’s actually necessary.”