Tonawanda News

Columns

June 7, 2013

State Senate legalizes class system

Tonawanda News — If you feel at times that there is an us vs. them society in New York State, you’re not crazy. In fact, the New York State Senate just voted to make it official.

Far too often we see laws created that apply only to the common folks but which exempts certain people in society - the lucky ones, if you will. The state itself exempts politicians and bureaucrats from having to follow the same set of rules us “mere taxpayers” have to comply with.

And now the state Senate has passed a bill making it a felony to “harass, annoy or threaten a police officer while on duty” punishable by up to four years in jail.

Senator Joe Griffo, a Republican from Rome and the architect of the law said, “Police officers who risk their lives every day in our cities and on our highways deserve every possible protection, and those who treat them with disrespect, harass them and create situations that can lead to injuries deserve to pay a price for their actions.”

I don’t disagree that harassing a police officer should be a crime. Just as harassing your neighbor or anyone else should be a crime. I just don’t understand why it should be a special crime. We already have a charge for “obstructing official business,” don’t we?

I would also agree that creating situations that can lead to injuries should carry a punishment. Although that phrasing is a bit ambiguous. It’s not nearly as ambiguous as treating “them with disrespect,” however.

Basically, I don’t see a need for this law. It is feel-good legislation designed to remind us common folk that we’re not as important as the police. It’s far too open to the interpretation of the offended officer and could be very easy to abuse.

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