With over 300,000 members, the National Fraternal Order of Police wants crimes against police officers to fall under the Congressional hate crimes statute. The move comes in the wake of the brutal murders of two New York City police officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.
The group sent a letter to the White House and Congress asking for the change.
“Right now, it’s a hate crime if you attack someone solely because of the color of their skin, but it ought to be a hate crime if you attack someone solely because of the color of their uniform as well,” said Jim Pasco, the executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police.
“Enough is enough! It’s time for Congress to do something to protect the men and women who protect us,” Chuck Canterbury, the president of the union, said in a statement Monday. The group has long lobbied for harsher punishment for those who harm law enforcement officers.
The organization argues that “ambush attacks” — like the one in which NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were killed last month — are frequently motivated by hatred of the police. According to FBI statistics, about 21.7 percent of non-accidental law enforcement deaths since 2004 were ambush attacks.
Obama’s Press Secretary Josh Earnest said it’s “something that we’ll have to consider.” He added that a task force on policing convened by the White House would give it consideration.
A hate crime is defined by Congress as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.” If local authorities decline to prosecute a hate crime, the federal government can take over, making hate crime offenders more likely to face prosecution.