Mimesis Law
15 November 2018

Federal Blue Lives Matter Laws? Nope, Nope, Nope

February 14, 2017 (Fault Lines) — Fault Lines contributor Sam Bieler examined some of the executive orders our sitting President issued regarding criminal justice. His takeaway was the orders were much ado about nothing. Here’s his comment regarding “Order Three.”

The third order, protecting law enforcement officers, is probably the blandest of the bunch. Section two of the order commands the Attorney General to coordinate state, federal, and local agencies to prevent violence against officers, prosecute that violence, and review existing programs designed to prevent violence.

It sounds bland, until you actually take a look at the Executive Order and review what it says. If you take a closer look at the text, the President is attempting to legislate federal hate crime laws for police officers.

Section 1.  Policy.  It shall be the policy of the executive branch to:

(c)  pursue appropriate legislation, consistent with the Constitution’s regime of limited and enumerated Federal powers, that will define new Federal crimes, and increase penalties for existing Federal crimes, in order to prevent violence against Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement officers. (Emphasis added.)

If that wording doesn’t trouble you, then welcome to Fault Lines. It’s good to have you on as a new reader. What our President is attempting to do with this executive order, in an attempt to show off his “law and order” chops, is essentially create a Federal Blue Lives Matter bill that will enhance penalties against anyone who commits a crime against police officers.

Fault Lines started covering the “Blue Lives Matter” legislation back in March of 2016 when Colorado Representative Ken Buck attempted to pass H.R. 4760, the “Blue Lives Matter Act.” It was a slap in the face for “hate crimes,” and tacked on a needless sentence enhancement in an attempt to appease cops who think the public is waging war on their jobs.

In order for you to understand why the “Blue Lives Matter” bills are toxic pieces of legislation, you need to understand why hate crime enhancements exist. When someone commits a crime against a minority community, whether race, sexual orientation, or any group with what society deems an “immutable characteristic,” legislators tend to recognize that the crime has lasting impacts on the community as a whole.

If a gay kid gets dragged four miles to his death by a pickup truck, or a black guy is hanged with a sign containing racial slurs around his neck, we acknowledge that others with the same immutable characteristics might be harmed in some fashion. They may not want to come out, or they may avoid traditionally white neighborhoods for fear of suffering the same fate. For better or worse, we tell people in these circumstances our courts feel their pain and will punish the offender appropriately.

Being a cop isn’t an immutable characteristic. You have a say in whether you put on a badge and service belt. You take exams and undergo physicals to become a police officer. Every day you are a police officer, it’s a voluntary choice you make. If you don’t want to be a cop anymore, you can simply retire. As contributor Greg Prickett has said repeatedly, “We can always find more officers.”

The Blue Lives Matter bills were introduced at the federal level and state levels in an attempt to appease those who felt their lives were at greater risk following the Ferguson and Baltimore protests, as well as the increased shootings of cops who were on or off duty. Each was a miserable failure. Louisiana managed to pass one with minimal effect. The best success it can muster is one misguided Louisiana Police Chief who thinks it means he slap bigger charges on people if they resist arrest.

“Blue Lives Matter” bills are a failure. Prosecuting them is a waste of time and money. And the Executive Branch, our Commander in Chief, quietly gave congress the ability to pursue his “law-and-order” agenda by pushing the “Blue Lives Matter” agenda through via executive fiat. This is not bland material, it’s abuse of the highest office in the land to make sure our nation’s law enforcement gets “bigly” protection from the mean nasty public that raises a fuss every time an innocent citizen is beaten, tased, or robbed.

If the president wants to walk the line of criminal justice reform, the last place he needs to start is by pandering to police unions and those who worship the authority of the men and women who wield a badge, gun, and the state sanctioned license to kill. Start by acknowledging police work is most likely a thankless job many take on in an effort to make their communities safer. Placing them at the front of the Oppression Olympics* by making them a protected class worthy of hate crime enhancements is only going to draw the ire of those who actually suffer from hate crimes.

*Thanks to Dave Rubin for that term.

12 Comments on this post.

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  • Ms.Upton
    14 February 2017 at 10:02 am - Reply

    Wow, just who’s side are you on? Police officers put their lives on the line everyday and have become targets more recently then ever. The crime’s being committed on them are not in the average line of duty. …. But are actual hate crimes. People are deliberately killing other police officers because of the public being so upset over a few incidents out of how many thousands of police employees across the U.S.? My theory is if u and I worked at the same place, and I messed up very badly, would you want to be held accountable? No…and if someone decided they were so upset with me that they were gonna try to hurt you(just an example— no meaning behind it) wouldn’t that be wrong? Why are you so against enforcing something that is needed? Obviously you are against our police departments safety.. How sad… Just my opinion.

    • Greg Prickett
      15 February 2017 at 3:43 am - Reply

      Sorry, but your opinion is wrong.

      I put on a badge and a gun for 40 hours or more a week for over 20 years. I’ve been shot at, I’ve been in I don’t know how many fights with suspects, been to the ER for stitches, and so on.

      Police hate crime laws are a panacea for the public – they don’t do anything to protect police officers. If you slap a citizen in Texas and hurt them, you’ve committed a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. If you slap a police officer, it’s a felony, punishable by 2-10 years in prison. If you make it a hate crime in Texas, you’ve now increased the punishment to 2-20 years.

      For a slap.

      It’s overkill. Police are already protected by the law, and the fact that Chris knows this and opposes a stupid law that is designed to fool the public does not make him anti-police. It means that he knows how to evaluate what the results of the stupid law would be, and how it would be abused.

      BTW, if you want to focus on accountability, why not focus on why police are not accountable for misconduct? It would serve our society much better.

      • Carl Tennenbaum
        1 March 2017 at 3:32 pm - Reply

        Greg,

        When I read your opening sentence my head exploded (not literally!) and I was ready to lay into you for writing such an incorrect and inflammatory comment. Then I read the rest of your commentary and realized that I could have written it myself and that I could not agree with you more. I spent 32 years as a city cop and I don’t buy into the current “war on cops” mindset that is polarizing police – community relations. Thank you for putting my thoughts into words.

        Now, as to your opening line, I have to tell you that – in theory, at least – one’s opinion cannot be wrong. It’s an opinion, not a fact, and as ill informed it may be (as is the case here) it is still not subject to a “right or wrong” determination. Splitting hairs? Maybe, but it does take away from the otherwise eloquent and insightful opinion that you wrote.

    • CLS
      15 February 2017 at 2:25 pm - Reply

      I was going to address “Ms. Upton’s” comments after I got done with my actual work stuff, but leave it to Greg (an actual former cop) to explain why the Blue Lives Matter laws are crazy. I will briefly address Ms. Upton’s fundamental misunderstanding of what constitutes a hate crime. There’s also a false equivalency there about working in the same place and wanting (or not wanting) accountability, and the inevitable “Obviously you hate cops” retort.

      Lou and I get along quite nicely. Your argument is invalid, Ms. Upton. Return to the asylum from whence you came.

  • Mr.Childress
    14 February 2017 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    http://mimesislaw.com/fault-lines/blue-lives-matter-act-a-slap-in-the-face-for-hate-crimes/8145

    Check out the above article, it flushes out some of your concerns.

    Also “Obviously you are against our police departments safety.. How sad… Just my opinion.” Own it, don’t just make an accusation against the author and then try to absolve yourself of responsibility by saying it is your opinion. Own it.

    If you have questions you thought went unanswered about the topic ask them and support your argument as you see it and wait for a response in kind. Don’t use a question mark to make your accusations and outrage as a bludgeon and shield. You can disagree with the author’s point, You can have your opinions, but it helps no one to just be passive -aggressive and dismissive. Certainly, you’ve learned nothing and neither have we.

    • CLS
      15 February 2017 at 2:27 pm - Reply

      What we’ve learned here is that there are still people who worship at the altar of the fictitious “Officer Friendly” and see those who question authority as nothing less than evil. I’d gather Ms. Upton thinks I’m “Literally Hitler” for not supporting a Blue Lives Matter sentencing enhancement.

      But if she’d asked questions, done so politely, and engaged I’d have been happy to talk with her.

  • Carlos Berrios
    15 February 2017 at 9:20 am - Reply

    Excellent piece, Chris.

    • CLS
      15 February 2017 at 2:28 pm - Reply

      Thank you. I have my days.

  • Boffin
    18 February 2017 at 5:15 pm - Reply
    • Chris Seaton
      18 February 2017 at 5:26 pm - Reply

      Welcome to the new normal for the next four years.

  • Carl Tennenbaum
    1 March 2017 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    I will add my two cents as a former police officer, starting with my wholehearted agreement with every single word of this article and dovetailing with what Greg Prickett – a fellow enlightened cop – has written in his response.

    When I joined the San Francisco Police Department in 1981 I accepted the fact that it was going to be a challenging and at times a very dangerous job. The challenges were daily, the danger was intermittent. In 1989 I lost my partner during a botched drug raid (he was hit by a car but that doesn’t change the facts or the narrative). I was heartbroken and disillusioned and even thought about quitting the job that I loved. But I didn’t.

    What I did do was take a step back and let time heal my wounds. I realized that my partner’s death, along with every police officer death, was an unfortunate byproduct of the risks that officers take each and every day that they go out on the streets. Those risks are part of the job and are generally offset by the amount of goodwill and positive public interactions that most cops experience over the course of their careers.

    To elevate police officers to a protected class status is, as stated, an insult to every truly oppressed group or individual who has no choice in their status and who truly need such protections. There are already plenty of enhancements for assaulting or murdering police officers. These Blue Lives Matters bills are frivolous window dressing that do way more harm to the community and to police – community relations than they do to solve any imaginary injustices directed towards police officers.

    Instead of Law and Order perhaps we should try a little Justice For All.

    • Chris Seaton
      1 March 2017 at 3:45 pm - Reply

      Please accept my condolences for the loss of your partner.

      I am also uplifted by seeing someone else in law enforcement, retired or current, who gets the damages these “Blue Lives Matter” bills do to communities.