Ky. bill would make it a crime to insult cops in some cases
The bill’s sponsor, a retired police officer, says the legislation comes in response to last summer’s violent protests
By Police1 Staff
FRANKFORT, Ky. — A bill that would criminalize insulting or taunting police officers during a riot has advanced to the Kentucky state Senate.
According to WTRF, Senate Bill 211 mandates up to three months’ imprisonment for someone who “accosts, insults, taunts, or challenges a law enforcement officer with offensive or derisive words,” or makes “gestures or other physical contact that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response from the perspective of a reasonable and prudent person.”
State Sen. Danny Carroll (R), the bill’s lead sponsor and a retired police officer, said the legislation was a response to “riots” seen last summer.
"This is not about lawful protest in any way, shape, form or fashion," Carroll told the Louisville Courier-Journal. "This country was built on lawful protest, and it's something that we must maintain — our citizens' right to do so. What this deals with are those who cross the line and commit criminal acts."
The bill was approved Thursday by the Senate’s Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection committee in a 7-3 vote, according to WTRF. It will now face the full Senate and could be passed there this week before heading to the House.
The measure is not without its share of critics. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky called the measure “an extreme bill to stifle dissent.”
#SB211 is an extreme bill to stifle dissent. It’s so extreme it would make it a crime to say “insulting” or “offensive” things to law enforcement. ACLU-KY Legal Dir. Corey Shapiro told @courierjournal that lawmakers trying to criminalize speech is, itself, “offensive.” #KYGA21 https://t.co/kwFCRAKovZ— ACLU of Kentucky (@ACLUofKY) March 5, 2021
State Sen. David Yates (D) of Louisville told the Courier-Journal that although he believes Carroll’s intentions were good, the bill goes too far.
“It's dangerous," Yates said. "And I think the consequences are going to be worse for my city, which I represent, as far as that relationship that we're working to build."