Press Releases

Reed Requests AG Barr Investigate Hate Crime Charges, Pursue Assault Charges Surrounding NYC Police Attacks

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Washington, D.C., August 14, 2019 | comments

Today, Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) sent a letter to United States Attorney General William Barr following online videos of police officers being doused with water – and in one case, hit in the head with a bucket while trying to make an arrest. The letter requests the Department of Justice investigate federal hate crime charges and pursue criminal charges for assaulting a police officer for those involved in the attack.

“These actions are a result of Democrat politicians spouting anti-police rhetoric to gain cheap political points,” Tom said in the letter to the Attorney General. “While we cannot control the extreme rhetoric of these politicians and the total disrespect local District Attorneys have shown toward police by refusing to prosecute certain crimes, the United States Justice Department does have the ability to investigate criminal hate crime charges against those involved and pursue criminal charges for assaulting a police officer.

“Our law enforcement officers get up in the morning, ready to face whatever happens that day in the name of protecting our citizens – they deserve better – and should not have to face these egregious attacks,” Tom concluded.

"Plain and simple – these officers came under attack because of the uniform they wear. Enough is enough,” South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg said. “We must take a stand against anti-police words and actions. These men and women work to keep us safe, and we should have their back just the same."

Tom also indicated support for legislation introduced in Albany by Assemblyman Michael Reilly and Assemblyman Mike LiPetri, who have introduced a new bill that would make it a Class E felony to throw or spray water or any other substance at an on-duty police or peace officer. The charge would be punishable by up to 1 to 4 years in prison.

Unfortunately, the bill is facing stiff opposition by Democratic State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

“The recent water dousing attacks in New York City on our police were disgraceful. I introduced state legislation in New York to deter this disrespectful conduct and protect law enforcement from enduring these types of attacks before they escalate to more harmful and life-threatening substances,” Assemblyman Michael LiPetri said. “I hope the federal government takes heed in protecting our law enforcement on all levels of government in a time when there are many politicians today who are more inclined to demonize and malign our protectors, rather than support them.” 

“Our incredible law enforcement personnel risk their well-being every day so New Yorkers can go about their business safely,” New York StateAssembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb said.“It is unconscionable there are individuals who think it’s acceptable to disrupt police work and endanger officers who are simply doing their job to protect and serve their communities. Our law enforcement officers deserve tremendous gratitude and I fully support legislation aimed at curbing these disgusting incidences of disrespect.”

“We cannot tolerate acts of aggression and complete disrespect for police officers on the streets of New York City or in any other community throughout New York State,” State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats) said. “Our law enforcement officers are the first line of defense for our neighborhoods.  They put themselves on the line to protect our safety day in and day out, and they earn and deserve our complete respect.  We should take every step necessary to make that clear to anyone who thinks otherwise.”  

“We need to stand up for the men and women in law enforcement who stand strong for all of us every single day,” Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) said. “These disgusting acts of total disrespect for police officers simply cannot be tolerated anywhere.  If left unchecked, this lawlessness will endanger the safety and security of every community and neighborhood.  I’m proud to support and encourage the enactment of this strong legislation that respects the service and sacrifice of our officers.”

“The National Association of Police Organizations strongly condemns these attacks on officers and supports the calls for stronger laws and penalties for anyone who harasses officers or interferes with a police officer’s official duties,” Bill Johnson, Executive Director, National Association of Police Organizations said. “It is not enough for politicians and NYPD leadership to condemn the actions of the culprits who threw water on the officers; they must push for their arrests and have officers’ backs when they take actions to defend themselves against such harassment.

“I believe that it is imperative that both parties take a strong stance against these actions of throwing water or any items on/at law enforcement,” said Chemung County Sheriff, Bill Schrom.  To shrug it off as ‘no big deal’ is not only irresponsible but dangerous.  If individuals believe that there are no consequences to their actions then what is to prevent them from spraying other liquid substances on law enforcement officials trying to do their jobs?  I sincerely hope that all lawmakers would support such a law to show their support for the brave men and women who serve and protect all of us every day!” 

 “Men and women in law enforcement risk their lives every day to protect the citizens of New York State. Recent attacks on police officers by spraying and throwing water and other substances represent short sighted and reckless conduct that is far more than a mere annoyance – it: removes officers from the street; interferes with their ability to protect the public; and in an emergency situation could cause injury or worse,” said Steuben County District Attorney, Brooks Baker.“For anyone, particularly a state level law maker to suggest that this type of conduct should be condoned and engaged in without sanction is simply irresponsible.  We must protect those who protect us.  I applaud Congressman Reed for taking a stand once again for New York Law Enforcement – and sincerely hope that all other law makers in New York State will do the right thing and join him.”   

“We are a nation of laws.  An attack on those who serve, protect and enforce those laws should never occur without appropriate consequences,” said Steuben County Sheriff, Jim Allard. “The officers being attacked have no way of knowing if the attacker is spraying water, bodily fluids or a corrosive, harmful substance.  There is absolutely no legitimate reason for any person to spray any law enforcement officer with any substance.   It is a Class E Felony if an inmate attacks a correction officer by spraying or throwing fluids on that officer, why should this be treated any differently.” 

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association of the City of New York President Patrick J. Lynch said:

“Since these outrageous videos surfaced, a chorus of lawmakers has condemned the behavior as ‘unacceptable’ and ‘disrespectful.’ We have been down this road before — words of support are meaningless if they’re not backed up by concrete action to address the lawlessness on our streets.” 

“The NYPD has issued guidance regarding the offenses for which a police officer could make an arrest in these situations.  But our district attorneys are almost universally refusing to prosecute these same offenses, and new laws passed this year in Albany will require cops to merely issue a ticket for these and many other crimes. The chaos will continue to escalate unless something changes.

“We are calling on City Hall and Albany to roll back the existing policies that have emboldened criminals, and to create meaningful penalties for anyone who harasses or interferes with a police officer in the course of his or her official duties.  At a minimum, there should be a felony charge for assaulting a police officer by throwing or spraying water or any other substance, and a misdemeanor charge for the attempt to do so. It’s time for lawmakers to take a stand against disorder, on behalf of their constituents and the cops who protect them.”

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