It’s as if the cool kids have found the magic gap where they can show their disdain without being held accountable. Why? No one was physically harmed. What’s the problem?
Two New York lawmakers have announced new legislation which would make actions such as dousing police officers with water a felony.
Assemblyman Mike LiPetri (R-Long Island) and Assemblyman Michael Reilly (R-Staten Island) made the announcement Wednesday morning at New York City Hall.
“New York State must send a message that this will not be tolerated and I am confident that this bill provides law enforcement the tools they need to properly react,” said LiPetri.
Naturally, PBA president Pat Lynch thinks this is a swell idea, explaining why in his usually deep and thoughtful way.
They were joined by NYPD Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch and police union representatives from NYC and Long Island.
“Common sense says you don’t dump a bucket of anything on a police officer responding to an emergency call,” Lynch said.
In a way, the water-dumpers are right, as it’s not even a misdemeanor assault under New York law since no physical harm comes to the cops. But then, the notion that this was a brilliant way to . . . piss off cops and most people who aren’t quite as cool and, even if they aren’t quite badgelickers, aren’t cop haters either, creates an untenable situation. Dumping water on random cops isn’t the sort of thing that most people find endearing. We might not think much of cops, but we still need them.
But while condemnation of childish and idiotic behavior is one thing, the legislators are seeking a much bigger hammer.
The new legislation would make it a Class E felony to throw or spray water, or any other substance, against an on-duty police or peace officer. Violations would be punishable by up to one to four years in prison.
Not merely a crime, or a civil violation, but a felony. This, no doubt, is to show how serious they are, and how seriously they love their cops. But with the Democrats holding both houses of the state lege and the governorship, can they get it through?
The proposal needs approval from the Assembly, the Senate and the governor before it becomes law.
“Hopefully my colleagues in Albany will support this legislation from both sides of the aisle. Because if that’s what they care about, the safety of our law enforcement, they will,” Reilly said.
There are two things to consider here; first, that as much as pols pander to the unduly passionate, they rely heavily on the support of government power and the goodwill of the police to serve their ends. The second thing is the PBA is a major funder of re-election campaigns. It might not cost as much as election, but re-election costs money too. It’s good to have the PBA send you a check. Even the most passionate Democrats will be hard-pressed to argue that they find dumping water on cops acceptable.
But proposing a new law, a new crime, is grossly premature, ill-conceived and overkill. There are preliminary questions, the first being whether this is a momentary fad that will swiftly come to an end. Hey, streaking was thing for about five minutes, too, until people woke and realized it was a really dumb idea.
And make no mistake, this is a dumb idea. First, it does less to “humiliate” cops then it does to make them sympathetic, victims of hooligans. Second, some cop is not going to take it well and deliver a beating, or worse, to whoever does it. Bear in mind, there’s video, which seems to be a primary purpose of dumping water on cops, to have it go viral and be a hero of the outraged. As the cops will argue, they don’t know if it’s water or acid, or some other harmful substance, and the argument will be used to justify an extreme reaction by the police. And it will suffice.
But even if it continues, the point of any response in legislation is to prevent it, not to impose draconian punishment for a stupid, but relatively harmless, act. Felony is gross overkill, and as with all such crimes, will eventually come to be used for unintended purposes, such as the cop who claims the guy with the slurpee he threw to the ground “splashed” it on him, as the cop put his head in a choke hold.
For those who find such “rebellious” acts as throwing a milkshake at a pol or dumping water on a cop, harassing pols in restaurants or punching someone for holding a view they believe to be repugnant, to be a good idea, there will be consequences if it persists. What is the right amount of “kill” is impossible to say, as the law only provides a bludgeon and people continually manage to come up with inventive ways of creating problems the law isn’t well-equipped to handle.
The solution is to stop doing stupid things that serve little useful purpose beyond catharsis and, when recorded, turning some doofus into a viral hero. Don’t do it because cops are wonderful, or pols are trying their hardest, or the political views of your adversaries are worthy of discussion. Do it because the ramifications will come and, whether fair or excessive, whether constitutional or not, people will be harmed by it.
You won’t hurt a cop by dumping water on him, but eventually someone will be hurt by it, and that’s the person who doesn’t deserve to be harmed so you can go viral on Youtube. Stop this idiocy before real harm is done.
*Remember the syllogism:
Something must be done.
This is something.
This must be done.