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New York Police Department officers with riot helmets man a barricade at Broadway and Exchange Street, a few blocks from the New York Stock Exchange as demonstrators with 'Occupy Wall Street' mark the two month anniversary of the protest November 17, 2011
They look pretty annoyed, don't they?
And yes of course the police officer gets to decide whether he or she was annoyed.
The New York Senate has passed a bill making it illegal to "harass" a police officer by "any type of physical action" -- even action that does not otherwise constitute interference, obstruction or assault. Given that "obstruction" and "interference" are famously broad, it's hard to imagine what conduct the police and the NY Senate believe they need to control by statute, though there's a clue in the statutory language, which makes it a felony to "harass, annoy, or threaten a police officer while on duty."

In other words, if you cause any physical contact with a police officer, even unintentionally, even if the contact does not rise to the level of assault or obstruction or interference, you can be convicted of a felony and imprisoned if the officer can show that your conduct "annoyed" him. This is the kind of statute that seems calculated to allow the police and prosecutors to put people in jail for very long stretches (remember that 97% of people indicted for felonies in the USA plead guilty under threat of decades of prison should they fight and lose) just because they don't like them very much.

The bill has passed the Senate only, next it would have to pass the ASSembly.

The bill was sponsored by local Senators Pat Gallivan, George Maziarz and Michael Ranzenhofer, as well as Senator Joe Griffo (R) of Rome.

Griffo seems to think that officers aren't getting enough respect nowadays and passing a law will make people respect the police.

Our system of laws is established to protect the foundations of our society,” Senator Griffo said. “Police officers who risk their lives every day in our cities and on our highways deserve every possible protection, and those who treat them with disrespect, harass them and create situations that can lead to injuries deserve to pay a price for their actions.”

Griffo said that New York police require extra safeguards because “too many people in our society have lost the respect they need to have for a police officer…. We need to make it very clear that when a police officer is performing his duty, every citizen needs to comply and that refusal to comply carries a penalty.”

I do think there are reasons for the decline in respect of police officers.  But somehow, I don't think mandating it by law will do anything to advance it.
How about they pass a law making it a felony for a police officer to annoy a citizen who has committed no crime? If this law goes through, any tiny remaining shred of power citizens had against being abused by the police will be gone.  The law is written so vaguely as to enable the police to arrest anyone for just about any reason at all, if they take a dislike to the person or their actions.  But rest assured, we are not in a police state!

Here is the press release from the NY Senate. Here is the text of the bill.

Originally posted to Barefoothoofcare on Fri Jun 07, 2013 at 12:08 PM PDT.

Also republished by Police Accountability Group and New York City.

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