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July 14, 2016

Pa. lawmaker's bill would make assault on police a hate crime

'Blue Lives Matter' bill aims at protecting state's cops

Politics Police
Philly Police Officers David Goldman/AP

In this file photo, City Hall stands in the background as police walk along Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, in Philadelphia.

A Pennsylvania lawmaker is proposing a piece of legislation that would make assaulting a police officer in the state a hate crime.

State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, introduced Tuesday a “Blue Lives Matter” bill, which comes after five officers were killed by a gunman in Dallas.

Related: Ben Franklin Bridge illuminated in blue to honor fallen Dallas police

"We have to protect the police officer, because nobody will want to be a police officer if they constantly have a target on their back," Burns said in a recent interview.

The bill would amend the state's hate crime laws regarding "ethnic intimidation" to read "ethnic and employment intimidation," more specifically, adding in "employment as a law enforcement officer."

Under the amended law, offenses committed against law enforcement officials with malicious intent toward their profession would be bumped up a degree. So, a second-degree misdemeanor would become a first-degree misdemeanor.

Read: Transcript of President Obama's calming words to nation at memorial for fallen Dallas officers

“I’ve already heard from a few outside of my district who aren’t happy with this legislation, but I believe it’s necessary to send a clear, unwavering signal of support for those who risk their lives to protect us,” Burns said in a statement.

PhillyMag noted that if passed, the law would make Pennsylvania the second state to enact such legislation, as Louisiana passed a similar law in May.