A lawmaker in Oklahoma wants attacks on police officers and other first responders to be classified as hate crimes.
Casey Murdock, a Republican senator for Oklahoma’s 27th district, announced Tuesday that he plans to introduce legislation that will make any attack or threat against law enforcement officers, first responders, national guardsmen or military personnel a hate crime.
“After the events this weekend in California — and the terrible attack on our police officers in Tulsa earlier this summer — it’s more important than ever to protect our law enforcement officers and the individuals putting their lives on the line to protect our safety,” Murdock said in a news release.
On Saturday, two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies were shot as they sat in their vehicle in what police are calling an ambush. Surveillance video shows the gunman approaching the passenger side of the vehicle, firing the gun and then running off.
Both deputies — a 24-year-old man and 31-year-old woman, per CNN — were hospitalized and underwent surgery. They remain in critical condition. The suspect remains at large.
“With the hatred and unrest in this country, we must classify these careers as a protected class,” Murdock said. “Attacks against our peace officers are absolutely a hate crime because they are targeted based on their profession.”
The current Oklahoma statute prohibits crimes or threats against a person based on race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin or disability, the senator said.
The 2021 legislative session begins Feb. 1. Measures can be filed between Nov. 15 and Jan. 21.
Oklahoma wouldn’t be the first state to consider identifying attacks against police as hate crimes.
In February, the Alabama House of Representatives voted unanimously to add law enforcement officers to groups covered by the state’s hate crime laws, The Associated Press reported.
Louisiana was the first state to pass what it called the “blue lives matter law” in 2016, which added police officers to the state’s hate crimes law, according to the AP. Texas, Kentucky and several other states followed suit.