STATEN ISLAND — Assaulting police officers would be a hate crime if a proposed bill gets passed.
Staten Island Assemblyman Ron Castorina Jr. wants to introduce a "Blue Lives Matter" bill that would class attacks on police as hateful and impose stricter penalties.
"The impetus of this bill is a climate in this country, in this city, in this state where police officers have been targeted merely because they wear the uniform," Castorina said at the announcement of the bill outside the NYPD's 122nd Precinct on Thursday.
"We need to do something to deter assaulting police officers throughout the state of New York."
Castorina said the bill — which the freshman Assembly member plans to introduce in January — will also make protests more peaceful because "rabble-rousers" who throw bottles or punches at officers during them will face a harsher sentence.
"This bill would both promote first amendment rights and protect our police officers," Castorina said.
Despite several high profile attacks against police in the past several years — including NYPD officers Wenijan Liu and Rafael Ramos who were gunned down in 2014 — the number of officers killed in the line of duty has decreased in the past several years, according to the most recent FBI statistics.
In 2015, 41 officers were intentionally killed in the line of duty nationwide, a decrease by 20 percent from 2014 and one of the safest years on record for police, the Huffington Post reported.
Assaults on officers have also decreased over the past 10 years, the Boston Globe reported.
Still, with five officers gunned down this year in Dallas and three in Baton Rouge, Councilman Joe Borelli, who supports the bill, said police officers have been specifically targeted for attacks and the law could potentially stop it in the future.
"It's offensive and it sums up everything wrong about our society when we see police officers being ambushed simply because they're wearing a badge," Borelli said.
"We’re not taking away anything from anybody else. This is simply adding a class of people who have been targeted because of their membership of a group to an existing law that detracts people from targeting people."