Patterico's Pontifications

8/3/2021

Long Island: First Responders Allowed To Sue Public For Harassment, Attack or Injuries While In Uniform

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:01 am



[guest post by Dana]

From New York, a Democratic-sponsored bill is ruffling feathers on Long Island:

County lawmakers in Long Island, N.Y., passed a bill Monday night that allows first responders to sue any person who harasses, attacks or injures them while they are in uniform.

Its proponents argue the Nassau County bill offers additional protections to officers in the face of “destructive riots and lawlessness” targeting law enforcement officials following George Floyd’s death in police custody last summer. Its critics say the bill comes as “retaliation” for Black Lives Matter protests against police abuses, and warn it could suppress demonstrations.

The bill — which was passed with 12 votes in favor, 6 opposed and one absent — will allow police officers and other first responders to seek and collect financial and punitive damages, with civil penalties of $25,000 to the “aggrieved” first responder and up to $50,000 in the case the violations happened during a riot, according to the bill.

In 2019, the Nassau County Legislature gave first responders protected status under its Human Rights Law, which prohibits discrimination against them.

The new law filed in June and authored by Nassau County Legislator Joshua A. Lafazan proposed expanding the local human rights law by allowing the county to sue on behalf of police officers for discrimination if they are harassed, menaced or injured.

The bill, co-sponsored by Democratic legislators Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, Arnold W. Drucker and Ellen Birnbaum, cited a “widespread pattern of physical attacks and intimidation” against the police since the protests over the killing of Floyd, although the protests were largely peaceful.

Civil rights groups are upset over the bill’s passage, saying that the bill sets a “dangerous” precedent. Moreover, they believe that it offers to police more protection and less accountability, will hinder the exercise of free speech and that the law will jeopardize even peaceful protests.

Details:

First responders would be allowed to sue for damages, punitive damages and legal fees. If the incident occurred while the officer was responding to “a riot,” then the payout would be triple. If a first responder does not wish to pursue action under the law, it directs the county attorney to sue on their behalf.

The New York Civil Liberties Union also voiced their opposition to the law:

The New York Civil Liberties Union is strongly opposed to the law. The NYCLU also says the bill conflates a chosen profession with being a member of a protected group — such as a racial or religious minority or a member of the LGBTQ community.

According to the NYCLU, police officers and first responders are already protected under the law, and crimes committed against them already come with steep penalties. The NYCLU also says the “irrebuttable presumption” clause is “flatly unconstitutional,” making it so that people accused of targeting first responders don’t have an opportunity to prove their innocence. It also gives first responders more rights than the citizens they’re sworn to protect.

Interestingly, one of the sponsors of the bill, Arnold Drucker, pulled his support from the bill after listening to constituents push back against it.

–Dana

20 Responses to “Long Island: First Responders Allowed To Sue Public For Harassment, Attack or Injuries While In Uniform”

  1. Hello.

    Dana (174549)

  2. “Hey you! Yes, you with the camera! You’re harassing me while I’m busy beating this suspect!”

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  3. I’m pretty sure that assaulting a police officer, or actually anyone, is a crime already. It’s the criminalization of “harassment” that’s new. I wonder how they define it.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  4. @2. O.M.G. And literally-on-a-taped-TeeVee-breaking-news-statement:

    “Hey you! Yes, you with the camera! You’re harassing me while I’m busy kissing this [insert 30 years of creepy photos here]!” – Andrew Cuomo

    Haven’t seen a politician perform like this on television since Budd Dwyer’s presser in 1987.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  5. Speaking of harassment, a post on the Andrew “Sonny” Cuomo mess will be up in the early afternoon.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  6. Dana, really interesting story. I guess what I want to know is how NY law will figure out damages and what the definition of harassment is. Any of the lawyers on the site have ideas?

    Time123 (9f42ee)

  7. I’m pretty sure that assaulting a police officer, or actually anyone, is a crime already. It’s the criminalization of “harassment” that’s new. I wonder how they define it.

    I wonder if this is a way for officers to have some recourse to combat those obnoxious protesters who get up in their faces and scream like banshees. I do kind of believe that law enforcement ought to be able to demand a two-foot buffer between themselves and the public, especially in the age of pandemics.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  8. The bill, co-sponsored by Democratic legislators Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, Arnold W. Drucker and Ellen Birnbaum, cited a “widespread pattern of physical attacks and intimidation” against the police since the protests over the killing of Floyd, although the protests were largely peaceful.

    I mean, is it editorial policy at the Washington Post that all references to the George Floyd Riots must include the disclaimer that they were “largely peaceful”? I would love for some enterprising young conservative to do an analysis of how many times those words were inserted into a WaPo article in which the riots were mentioned.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  9. @5. JVW- Don’t you find that photo collage he broadcast of himself kissing all those people over decades only reaffirming the creepy behavior he was allowed to get away with? Certainly smacked me that way.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  10. @5. JVW- Don’t you find that photo collage he broadcast of himself kissing all those people over decades only reaffirming the creepy behavior he was allowed to get away with? Certainly smacked me that way.

    Kind of like a guy who is being indicted for embezzlement of company funds putting up pictures of all of the sports cars he has bought over the past ten years and claiming that it just goes to show he likes fine automotive performance and isn’t really a crook. “Not the point you wanted to make, pal.”

    JVW (ee64e4)

  11. @10. LOL! Exactly.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  12. @7 +1; I’m curious about the mechanics of this. That can of bear mace seems like it can turn into six or seven $50k cases fast.

    frosty (f27e97)

  13. Kevin M (ab1c11) — 8/3/2021 @ 10:16 am

    It’s the criminalization of “harassment” that’s new. I wonder how they define it.

    It’s not criminalization. It’s creating a tort. It has lower standards of proof. I’d rather they just made it crime, (and defined it well) and prosecuted it. Certain kinds of interference.

    Harassment could be just calling names.

    Sammy Finkelman (51cd0c)

  14. 5. JVW (ee64e4) — 8/3/2021 @ 10:39 am

    Speaking of harassment, a post on the Andrew “Sonny” Cuomo mess will be up in the early afternoon.

    I;d like to read it. Maybe i;d find out some more.

    I should say something about the Haitian assassination plot and investigation. Every semblance of government has collapsed there.

    Sammy Finkelman (51cd0c)

  15. @5 Biden’s slow. Congressional leadership has united behind calling for Cumo resign. Hopefully when he gets there its’ worth the wait and he has something thoughtful to say. Especially given the accusation of Tara Reid.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/aug/03/biden-cuomo-white-house-sexual-harassment-investigation

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on Cuomo to resign, as did several New York Democrats – including both the state’s US senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand , as well as Congressmen Hakeem Jeffries and Mondaire Jones.

    Time123 (9f42ee)

  16. To get back on Topic, i can’t find any explanation of what this law will do in effect and so I can’t tell if this is a good idea, bad idea, or just performative nonsense.

    Time123 (9f42ee)

  17. I reserve judgement with regards to medics, etc. but for cops, this is just yet another cop weapon, as if they needed any more.

    Cops, especially NYC-area cops, are just a huge, unaccountable gang with a union and a government check.

    Don’t talk to cops.

    john (cd2753)

  18. Ironically, if you are harrassed, attacked, or injured by someone in uniform, qualified immunity means that you are unable to sue.

    Davethulhu (aa6793)

  19. It is probably unconstitutional.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  20. john #17

    One of the reasons I was drawn to this board was to gain broader perspective.
    Growing up I did not like law enforcemnt at all, but had several close work/friends who went into law enforcement and of course I trusted them.
    It was a little like the Elmore Leonard book “Fire in the Hole” where the quote is “we dug coal together”.

    At this point in history, I’m OK with most cops, not a fan of the holier than thou FBI elites and not a fan at all of cops being able to sue people because anything that can be abused, will be. It is a statists wet dream to be able to financially ruin people for failure to comply.

    I am in favor of jailing people for spitting, hitting, spraying, fireworks shooting etc of cops regardless to the nobleness, or not, of their cause. If it is OK for some groups to loot, burn, assault police, then everyone can and the ignoble cause outsiders will assert their “right’ to equality with equal vigor.

    steveg (ebe7c1)


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