Jones: Legislature Should Not Politicize Police, Firefighter Protections

Bills provide political gains rather than necessary protections for officers
Thursday, February 1, 2018

LANSING — State Rep. Jewell Jones (D-Inkster) voted no on a series of bills yesterday that would criminalize targeting a victim based on his or her occupation as a police officer, firefighter or emergency medical services personnel, whether they held that position or not. House Bills 4585, 4590 and 4591 were voted out of the House yesterday and will now be sent to the Senate for their consideration.

“I find it curious how my colleagues on the other side of the aisle closed out 2017 by attacking police and firefighters’ health care, yet now suddenly they’re working so hard to protect them. Something just isn’t adding up here,” said Jones, a member of the Inkster Auxiliary Police Department. “Our police and firefighters risk their lives every day to keep us safe. They don’t deserve to be used as political fodder whenever it is convenient, which is unfortunately what these bills seemed to be doing.”

Under the bill package, commonly touted as the “Blue Lives Matter” bill package, if a person targets a victim because he or she is perceived to be a firefighter, law enforcement officer, corrections officer or emergency services personal, the penalty would be a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison. HB 4591 updates the state’s sentencing guidelines to reflect the penalties as reflected in each of the other two bills.

“Not only is it already a crime to assault a police officer or firefighter, but we enter murky waters when we begin creating new felonies without ensuring they receive a serious penalty in line with the laws currently on the books. I simply can’t imagine why these bills are necessary, if not to politicize our men and women in uniform,” Jones said. “These bills seem to be a solution in search of a problem more than anything else, and our police and firefighters deserve better than political gestures like this.”

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