Hate crime bill seeks to extend protection to law enforcement, firefighters

Hate crime bill seeks to extend protection to law enforcement, firefighters

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The definition of a hate crime could extend to members of law enforcement and firefighters if a bill continues to see support from legislators.

House Bill 953, authored by Rep. Lance Harris, R-Rapides, passed out of committee Wednesday without opposition.

Currently Louisiana law defines a hate crime as any offense against a person and property because of "actual or perceived race, age, gender, religion, color, creed, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or ancestry of that person or the owner or occupant of that property..." The revision would include "because of actual or perceived employment as a law enforcement officer or firefighter."

The bill would extend to current firefighters who are either paid or volunteer. Law enforcement officer, on the other hand, would include current as well as retired officers. It would also protect those working in probation or parole, wildlife enforcement, and those working for the Department of Corrections.

If passed, an individual found guilty of such an offense would face a felony charge and could be imprisoned for no more than 5 years and face a fine of no more than $5,000, or both.

The bill now heads to the House floor for vote.

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