Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell announced today that he has
filed legislation for the 2017 Session that would expand Virginia hate crime laws to
include Police, Firefighters, and EMS personnel.
House Bill 1398, filed earlier this week, will expand the already existing definition of
hate crime for the purpose of reporting hate crimes within the Department of State
Police to include acts against persons employed as law-enforcement officers,
firefighters, or emergency medical services personnel. It already includes crimes
committed on the basis of race, religion, and ethnic origin.
“According to the FBI, forty one law enforcement officers were killed in the line of
duty in 2015” said Delegate Bell. “These are husbands and wives, mothers and
fathers, sisters and brothers, which were targeted because of their uniform. First
responders across the Commonwealth make sacrifices for us each day, and we must
find better ways to keep them safe.
“Adding police officers and other first responders makes logical sense. Officers
recently attacked in Dallas and other areas across the country were attacked not
because of who they are, but because of the uniform they wore” Bell continued. “I
hope that this will give them an extra layer of protection and will serve as a step in
the right direction toward ending violence against our emergency personnel. We are
seeing Democrats and Republicans across the nation put forth similar legislation,
and I hope that Virginia can serve as a leader in this area.”
In May, Louisiana became the first state in the nation to grant police officers
protected status. Other states, including Kentucky, Massachusetts, and New
Jersey, are considering similar legislation.
Elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, Delegate Bell represents the 20th
District, which includes Highland County, portions of Augusta and Nelson counties,
and the Cities of Staunton and Waynesboro. He is currently serving in his fourth