Attacks on first responders would be considered hate crimes under new Kentucky bill

Posted at 1:55 PM, Feb 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-09 18:11:39-05

CRESCENT SPRINGS, Ky.  – A local fire chief says he supports a Kentucky lawmaker’s efforts to protect those who serve and protect.

House Bill 14 would make attacks against first responders a hate crime in the state.

“We never seemed to be targeted before, but recently - especially with police officers - it seems to be almost the norm … It’s happening more and more,” says Crescent Springs Fire Chief Jeff Wendt.

The bill, proposed by Rep. Kevin Bratcher (R, Louisville), essentially would include first responders in the state’s existing hate crimes bill.  That currently applies protection based on sexual orientation, race, and religion.

“We want to make sure everyone knows that we take it serious -that if you attack the people that we have hired in Kentucky to run toward danger while the human instinct is to run away from danger, we are going to stand with them and protect them,” Bratcher said.

Louisiana has already passed such a law.  

Bratcher says the proposed change would give a judge more discretion in a suspect’s parole or sentencing. Wendt likes that.

“This gives the judge more ammo or more things to go on, so if he feels it is a hate crime and he feels that a higher punishment would fit the crime, then that just helps us in the long run,” Wendt said.

Bratcher’s bill just passed a House committee, so the next step is a full House vote. If it passes, it goes to the state Senate.

Bratcher hopes to make this law by as early as April.

READ the bill.

WCPO will update this story.