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New York Senate passes bill making it a crime to "annoy" police

For every gripe or annoyance that gets some public attention a corresponding movement in a state legislature will arise to address the perceived problem. In that light, it may be argued by some that restraint and common sense are not necessarily alive and well in the New York state legislature. That's because the New York Senate just passed a bill that makes the 'annoying' of a police officer by physical contact a crime. Not just a crime but a felony carrying a punishment of up to four years.

The physical contact can be anything as long as the officer finds it annoying. Presumably, if the law passes the State Assembly, you could be arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated for years if you innocently tap an officer on the shoulder to ask for directions. If he or she is having a bad day and finds the touch to be annoying, you're going to be in deep waters without a life preserver.

The bill would apply to any kind of physical contact with a police officer that is found to be annoying. Criminal defense attorneys predicted the law would be arbitrarily and capriciously applied. They also criticize the bill as being too vague and easy to apply, and question the justification for making it a felony.

The upstate Senate Republican who proposed the legislation said that too many people have lost the respect 'they need to have' for a police officer. However, there appears to be an ample supply of criminal charges and offenses already on the books that can be used to enforce the safety of our police. Additionally, crimes containing such broad defining language are more prone to abuse and excess implementation, in this case perhaps for an array of catch-all peeves that police may wish to remedy.

There are serious issues regarding crime and other pressing concerns in New York. It's thus reasonable to ask how there came to be a majority of New York State Senators agreeing on such an unnecessary and potentially unconstitutional provision. We can only hope that reason and common sense prevail in the State Assembly.

Source: gothamist.com, "Annoying A Cop Might Soon Be A Crime, Says NY State Senate," Rebecca Fishbein, June 6, 2013

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