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Opinion/Letter: Cut penalties for assaulting an officer?

Opinion/Letter: Cut penalties for assaulting an officer?

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Leave it to Virginia Democrats to come up with an ingenious solution to a rapidly growing national problem — the felonious assaults on police and other law enforcement officers responding to the recent wave of urban unrest and violence.

There are no definitive numbers, but The Washington Post has reported, quoting Department of Justice data, that: “During two weeks spanning the end of May and the beginning of June, 749 officers were injured while responding to protests and disturbances.” Given the continuing riots in Seattle (59 police injured on one day, July 25), Portland, Chicago, Austin, New York, and other cities, that number is now easily well over a thousand.

It appears that Virginia Democrats have now come up with a diabolically clever way to reduce the number of these felonies. As The Associated Press reported recently, they have proposed reducing the penalty for assaulting a police officer from a felony to a misdemeanor. That bill, Senate Bill 5032, is moving through committees as of this writing.

“Sen. Scott Surovell, the chief sponsor of the assault and battery bill, said it would eliminate the current mandatory minimum sentence of six months in jail and change the law so the charge can only be brought as a felony if an officer has a visible physical injury,” the AP reported.

Surovell is a Democrat, representing the 36th District — parts of Fairfax, Prince William, and Stafford counties.

Punch an officer? Throw her to the ground? Throw a brick or frozen water bottle? Shoot blinding laser lights at her eyes? If SB 5032 passes, these will no longer be felonies unless they result in “visible physical injury” — or perhaps even if they do, since the text of the bill states that if the assailant has “diminished physical or mental capacity or pervasive developmental disorder … a jury or the court may find the accused not guilty.”

Seattle, Portland, et al.: Listen up! You want to reduce the number of felonious assaults on your police? Follow the lead of Virginia Democrats and redefine those assaults as misdemeanors. No defunding necessary.

John Rosenberg

Albemarle County

Information links:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/protests-police-anger/2020/06/10/726b6f70-aa83-11ea-9063-e69bd6520940_story.html

https://spdblotter.seattle.gov/2020/07/26/officer-injuries-precinct-damage-arrest-updates/

https://dailyprogress.com/news/state/wire/article_ac27d8b6-4c77-5695-bfdf-e725dff1ff64.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia%27s_36th_Senate_district

https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?202+ful+SB5032S1

https://newsroom.ap.org/detail/Virginiatoconsiderreducingpenaltyforassaultingpolice/1db6c9d658b48207b6e62f2a720816ec/text?Query=Surovell&mediaType=text&sortBy=arrivaldatetime:desc&dateRange=Anytime&totalCount=4&currentItemNo=1

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