Act 184, authored by Rep. Lance Harris of Alexandria, the chairman of the House GOP Caucus, made it a hate crime to target police and first responders with certain enumerated criminal offenses.
The new law took effect on Aug. 1, before the July shootings occurred in Baton Rouge
That’s when East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputy Brad Garafola and Baton Rouge City Police officers Matthew Gerald and Montrell Jackson were killed by activist Gavin Long.
The U.S. Justice Department is looking into the police-involved shooting death of Alton Sterling, which transpired beforehand and set into motion Long’s attack.
Harris’ bill flew through the House and Senate with only three opposing votes was signed into law by Gov. John Bel Edwards.
“I’m doing some research on it,” said Harris of the possible followup legislation. “I don’t know what we need to do. Do we need to up the penalty for resisting arrest? Do we need to educate? I don’t know. Everybody that gets into that situation, it seems like it’s resisting arrest.”
He added, “We need to look at that initial point of contact between the police and the public and look to see if we can fix it — if there is anything we can do to fix it.”
Harris said he never intended his original legislation to become a national story earlier this year, and he expressed some doubt over the area of law where he added the new language.
“I’m not a big fan of hate crime statutes,” he said. “Haven’t been since they’ve been in place. But if we’re going to have them, with what’s going on today, we need to have our first responders in that.”