ALBANY – Senator Fred Akshar introduced the Community Heroes Protection Act on Monday, January 30, which designates crimes that specifically target police, firefighters, and other emergency service workers as punishable as hate crimes.
“We are living in a time where our nation is divided and crimes against first responders and police officers are on the rise,” said Senator Akshar. “Thousands of men and women voluntarily put their uniforms on every day to protect and serve our communities in a capacity no other could, even when there are very few willing to stand up for them.”
The act classifies all crimes against first responders – law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical services personnel – as hate crimes, in the event that the crime was motivated by the nature of the victims' career as a first responder.
Per a release from Senator Akshar's office, the Community Heroes Protection Act was inspired by the many brave men and women in uniforms who have lost their lives, were injured or targeted, simply because of their professions. Between 2015 and 2016, according to Akshar, researchers found that there was a 68 percent increase in firearm related fatalities among law enforcement employees, bringing the total number of officers who were fatally shot in 2016 to 64.