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New York Law Would Make it Felony to Annoy Cops

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One of four republican senators who sponsored the bill.

 

New York politicians are hoping to pass a bill that would make it a felony to “harass, annoy or threaten” a cop in the line of duty, which would no doubt be used against citizens who record cops in public.

If passed, citizens convicted of the law could find themselves sentenced to four years in prison.

As many of us have learned, it doesn’t take much to annoy a cop. Taking photos of cops can get you beat up, handcuffed and arrested. And verbally protesting that arrest can get you charged with resisting arrest.

But up until now, police in New York would usually have to depend on obstructing governmental administration to arrest photographers, a misdemeanor charge that never sticks in court because it requires a defendant to have physically interfered with police while in the line of duty.

But now they want to throw people in prison for merely annoying cops?

The bill, which is described as having “far reaching consequences” by a New York news site, states the following:

JUSTIFICATION:  Police officers all across this state put their  lives on  the  line  every  day  to protect the people of New York. New York State must establish laws and toughen existing laws that  protect  the police   from   becoming  victims  of  criminals.  Far  too  many  law enforcement officers are being harassed, injured,  even  killed  while honoring  their  commitment  to  protect  and  serve  this  state. The Legislature has a responsibility to do everything we  can  to  protect our  brave  heroes,  our police officers, from violent criminals. This legislation contributes to that premise.

S 240.33 AGGRAVATED HARASSMENT OF A POLICE OFFICER OR PEACE OFFICER.

A  PERSON  IS  GUILTY  OF AGGRAVATED HARASSMENT OF A POLICE OFFICER OR PEACE OFFICER WHEN, WITH THE INTENT TO HARASS, ANNOY, THREATEN OR  ALARM A  PERSON  WHOM HE OR SHE KNOWS OR REASONABLY SHOULD KNOW TO BE A POLICE OFFICER OR PEACE OFFICER ENGAGED IN THE COURSE  OF PERFORMING HIS OR HER OFFICIAL DUTIES, HE OR SHE STRIKES, SHOVES, KICKS OR OTHERWISE  SUBJECTS SUCH PERSON TO PHYSICAL CONTACT.

In reading the fine print, we can see that in order to be convicted of this charge, one would have to strike, shove or kick or otherwise do something physical to the cop, which is not much different than the “assault on a peace officer” statute.

However, the assault on a peace officer charge (or its equivalent statute in respective states) is already abused by cops throughout the country when citizens’ faces inadvertently come in contact with cops’ fists during moments of uncontrollable police rage.

So you can imagine this law would be blatantly abused when New York cops find themselves annoyed by citizens for maybe asking too many questions, taking too many photos or simply demanding some type of accountability.

Just last week, a Washington woman who is deaf and did not hear a cop’s commands was charged with felony assault on a police officer after he punched her repeatedly for failing to heed his orders.

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The bill, sponsored by four republican state senators, was already approved by the State Senate and is on its way to the State Assembly, where if passed, would then go to Governor Andrew Cuomo who would have ten days to sign or veto the bill.

If signed, it will go into effect come November.

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And once that happens, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has bragged about having the “seventh biggest army in the world,” would waste no time in encouraging the NYPD to use that law to crack down on anybody who questions their authority.

About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.