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January 07, 2017

Pennsylvania senator wants hate crime law to include police

A Pennsylvania lawmaker wants police officers and other law enforcement officials to be protected under the state's hate crime law.

State Sen. John C. Rafferty, R-Chester/Montgomery, sent a memo to fellow senators Friday seeking co-sponsorship for a bill that would create a new offense for persons "who commit crimes against law enforcement officers or first responders" and are "motivated by their hatred toward the police."

Rafferty's proposed legislation comes shortly after state Trooper Landon Weaver was shot and killed in central Pennsylvania. A text message from the suspect, Jason Robison, to his mother read, "I killed the cop. Shot him twice in the head he is dead."

RELATED: Small percentage of hate crimes aimed at whites

Weaver's death highlights the need to protect law enforcement and "punish those who specifically target police due to their hatred for law enforcement," Rafferty said in his memo.

Similar legislation was introduced in the state House last year. That bill from Democratic state Rep. Frank Burns never made it out of committee.

As Rafferty notes, a "Blue Lives Matter" bill has already been enacted in Louisiana, protecting law enforcement officials under the state's hate crime statute.

"Never before have we seen such hatred, vitriol and violence perpetrated against the very people who risk their lives every single day so that we can have the freedom and security that the people of this Commonwealth and this country enjoy," Rafferty wrote.

"It is our duty and responsibility to do everything in our power to protect the protectors."