Spraying cops with water could be felony under NY legislation
The announcement comes after a series of incidents of cops being doused and mocked
By Anna Sanders
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — Getting cops wet could soon be a felony.
Anyone who throws or sprays any substance on police could face up to four years in prison under state legislation unveiled after videos surfaced of NYPD officers being doused with water and mocked.
The bill from Republican Assemblymen Mike LiPetri (Long Island and Michael Reilly (Staten Island) would make it a class E felony to throw or spray water or any other substance against on on-duty cop or peace officer.
“It’s a sad day in the history of New York state when we have to legislate civility," LiPetri said announcing the legislation on the steps of City Hall Wednesday. “This time it’s water — but what’s next? Gasoline? Acid?”
Reilly said the behavior “demoralizes our communities.”
Anyone violating the law would be arrested and processed, instead of getting a desk appearance ticket, according to LiPetri. The GOP pol said he was “confident” the bill could move forward even though both the Assembly and State Senate are controlled by Democrats.
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams’ office said the measure was a “major overreaction.”
“The Public Advocate has consistently said that dousing officers with water is dangerous, shameful and unacceptable, but this proposal is a major overreaction and over-criminalization of an activity which is already illegal,” Williams spokesman William Gerlich said. "Clearly these continued actions need to stop, but hyperbole and headlines can’t drive criminal justice policy or counteract the progress we’ve made over years of reform.”
Police have made several arrests after NYPD cops were captured getting doused with water and mocked in a series of videos, including one where an officer in Harlem was hit with a bucket in the back of the head.
The alleged perpetrators have been charged with felony criminal mischief and other lesser charges, including disorderly conduct, obstructing government administration and criminal tampering. The NYPD anticipates making more arrests.
The water incidents sparked outrage police union officials and others who said Mayor de Blasio and the City Council created a disrespectful environment for officers because of their anti-cop rhetoric and the NYPD’s increasingly hands-off approach to low-level offenses.
“If mopes will dump water over the head of New York City police officers, they’ll do it to everyone," Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said. “It may be a water bucket today, it may be a cement bucket tomorrow."
The mayor’s office said it is reviewing the legislation.
“The mayor has spent the last five years working to improve relations between police and the communities they serve," de Blasio spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein said. "He will never tolerate disrespect against our officers and will always be the loudest voice in their defense.”
The head of the Transportation Workers Union said the measure didn’t go far enough.
“No disrespect to police officers, but if you are going to make dousing a police officer with water a felony then you should also make spitting on a transit worker, or police officer, a felony," TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano said in a statement.
Last year, bus and subway workers were spit at more than 150 times and 13 were spit at in the subways this July alone, according to Utano.
“There is nothing more disgusting or vile than this type of abuse that transit workers are subjected to for just wearing the MTA uniform,” Utano said. "Spitting is now just considered harassment, a violation, under the law. It’s offensively weak and needs to change.”
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