Delegate Bell Files Legislation to Expand Hate Crime Status to Police, Firefighters, and EMS

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


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