Cambridge to vote on resolution to make violence against police a hate crime

The city of Cambridge, Minn. is considering voting on a resolution that would make it a hate crime to hurt a police officer.  While some hope to protect officers from harm with this new measure, others say police officers just don't need any extra protection in the courtroom.

“My focus was to support our officers it wasn't about any of the other movements going on right now,” Cambridge City Council member Tiffany Kafer said.

Kafer is behind the push to make an attack against police officers considered a hate crime.  At a time when confidence in police is reportedly at its lowest nationally in more than two decades, the move would enhance the current penalty of an assault on an officer -- which is already up to a 20-year prison sentence and/or a $3,000 to $30,000 fine.

“Any kind of attack on a police officer or a police dog is automatically enhanced so they already have super protection so what they're asking for already exists,” Chuck Samuelson, Executive Director of ACLU-MN said.

While there is no hate crime law per se in Minnesota there is one that addresses crimes motivated by bias. The penalty is imprisonment for no more than a year, or a fine of no more than $3,000, or both.

“There’s nothing else they can get that they don't already have and haven't had for a very, very long time,” Samuelson said.

Yet the president of the Minneapolis police federation says the new law is exactly what Minnesota needs – “citizens need to know that they do have lawful orders to comply with what police are telling them to do.”

Reportedly, 30 officers have been gunned down across the country this year.  The Washington Post reported in August that 24 unarmed black men were killed by police. Of course that was two months ago and only accounts for a fraction of hundreds killed by police unarmed or not.

“This is a much bigger problem of the guy on the beat or a couple black kids hanging out on the street corner,” Samuelson said. “This is a microcosm of our society and what we've become.”

The Cambridge City Council will vote on the measure Monday. If passed, Cambridge will become the second city in Minnesota to pass this kind of measure. The first city was Red Wing -- leaders there passed the move earlier this month.