Republicans proposed a bill that would increase the penalty for hurling water on cops following a series of incidents that saw members of the NYPD attacked by a number of individuals who felt bold enough to drench cops in water. Democrats, however, have been quick to announce their opposition.
Considering the current perceived relationship between police officers and civilians, these officers felt they were unable to respond and instead had to take the abuse. The video of the cops being doused by local residents went viral, angering Republicans and leading to President Trump saying the incidents were “a total disgrace.”
GOP lawmakers are now introducing a bill that would make throwing or spraying water “or any other substance” on a police officer a class E felony and punishable by up to four years in jail.
Assemblyman Mike LiPetri, who introduced the bill, told Fox News in an interview Thursday that there “are signs the bill has some bipartisan support from some Democrats — particularly in the state Senate — but acknowledged early signs of other Democrats pushing back in the Assembly.”
“I think anything in Albany is always a tough fight, it’s just a matter of persistence and working together to unite not divide both Houses in making sure this effort is passed,” he said.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who will decide whether the bill gets brought up for a vote, indicated his opposition to the measure this week.
“But I don’t know if always proposing new penalties and laws [is the answer] … I think on the positive end we should continue to try and establish more of a community and police response,” he said, according to The New York Post. “I think that’s more beneficial instead of always saying ‘we are going to lock people up.’’
“I think people should respect the police department, but I think Police should also respect communities,” he added.
“It’s a real shame that the speaker feels that way, but I’d hope the conference feels otherwise,” LiPetri said. “Especially if they’re going to support law enforcement and also, we want to keep our communities safe and maintain civility within the neighborhoods.”
But that opposition is not limited to the speaker. City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, another Democrat, told The New York Daily News that the bill was a “major overreaction.”
“The public advocate has consistently said that dousing officers with water is dangerous, shameful and unacceptable, but this proposal is a major overreaction and overcriminalization of an activity which is already illegal,” a Williams spokesman told The News. “Clearly these continued actions need to stop, but hyperbole and headlines can’t drive criminal justice policy or counteract the progress we’ve made over years of reform.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has upset police officers with what they see as anti-cop comments on issues like race and policing took a good amount of the blame for the incidents. De Blasio told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that perpetrators in the water attacks have been “identified and arrested consistently.”
“Anybody the NYPD deems to have committed a crime will be arrested,” he said.
Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, co-sponsor of the legislation, said that lawmakers needed to send a message that it isn’t acceptable to assault police officers.
“The rhetoric we’ve seen from our Mayor and elected officials from the left have created an environment here in New York City where people believe that this behavior towards our police officers is acceptable and it’s certainly not, so elected officials need to join us in passing this legislation to send the right message.”