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Kentucky expands hate crime law to include law enforcement

Hate crimes are committed against people because of who they are, and are discriminatory in nature. That is why you often see hate crimes take place against those of a different race, nationality or religion than the attacker.

Recently, Kentucky expanded the protections under its hate crime laws to include police officers, firefighters, first responders and other members of law enforcement. The new measure aims to punish those who attack law enforcement just because they are law enforcement.

With rising tension between police and the communities they serve, Kentucky isn’t the first state to pass such protections. Louisiana passed a similar measure last year – and several other states have since followed suit.

What this means for you

You can’t be arrested for violating Kentucky’s hate crime laws alone. In order to face the penalties outlined in the law, you must be arrested for having violated another law.

Once you have been sentenced, that’s when the hate crime laws apply – potentially increasing your prison sentence based on the context of your crime.

Not all crimes against law enforcement are hate crimes, either. While the language in the bill is vague, its proponents point out that being a police officer or firefighter is a dangerous job, and the bill is not meant to protect them from all actions against them.

The bill does apply whether or not the officer is in uniform. Should you be found guilty for a crime against a member of law enforcement, a firefighter or first responder, your sentence could be extended. The goal, say lawmakers, is to put those who commit hate crimes against police in jail for longer.

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