Louisiana enacted its “Blue Lives Matter” law to make police officers, firefighters and EMS personnel protected classes under the state’s hate crime statute.
But one police chief in the state suggested that it could also be used to punish people more harshly for resisting arrest.
St. Martinville Police Chief Calder Hebert praised the recent legislation, but told KATC that anyone who resists arrest or gets physical with an officer could be charged with a hate crime.
The legislation, signed into law by Gov. John Bel Edwards in May, went into effect in August of 2016. It gives prosecutors free range to pursue more severe punishment for people who are believed to have attacked a police officer out of hatred, even though crimes against officers already carry a harsher charge.
“Resisting an officer or battery of a police officer was just that charge, simply,” Herbert said. “But now, Gov. Edwards, in the legislation, made it a hate crime now.”
The Huffington Post states that a resisting arrest charge can also be used to validate excessive force, or cover up unnecessary aggression on the officer’s part. An officer who routinely charges citizens with resisting arrest can be a red flag for abusive behavior.
Louisiana is one of at least 37 states that has enhanced penalties for harming a police officer, regardless of the attacker’s motives. An automatic assigning of a first-degree murder charge comes with killing a police officer, and assaulting and battering a police officer is also charged more harshly.