SPRINGFIELD, IL - Southern Illinois Sens. Dale Fowler @DaleFowlerIL and Paul Schimpf @SchimpfPaul are co-sponsoring a bill in the General Assembly that seeks to add law enforcement, correctional officers and emergency services personnel to the list of protected classes under Illinois’ hate crime statute.
Under the legislation — coined the Blue Lives Matter bill — Schimpf said that “if somebody decides to target a police officer because they are wanting to terrorize or intimidate law enforcement personnel, that crime could be punished as a hate crime.” Schimpf, an attorney, acknowledged that there are other laws already on the books that increase penalties for people who commit crimes against first responders while they are serving in their official capacity.
But Schimpf said the addition to the hate crime statute would give prosecutors another option in prosecuting cases where a crime against a law enforcement officer appears to be motivated by prejudice against uniformed personnel and with the intent of terrorizing first responders. Similar Blues Lives Matters bills under the same and other names, such as Back the Blue legislation, have been introduced in state legislatures across the country.
Bills of this nature have been signed into law in Kentucky and Louisiana.