SB 231-Probation; provide additional offenses for which first offender status shall not be granted

Sometimes I speed. Shhh. Don’t tell my Law Enforcement Manpanion. Granted, there are a couple of times that he has been painfully aware my not-so-secret sin because I was pulled over. I hate that feeling. The one where your legs get all tingly and your heart starts beating 25 million times faster. I usually go ahead and get all my identification and proof of insurance ready (yes…I know the routine at this point). I role the window down and start apologizing profusely. And, depending on how the Officer is responding to me, I may or may not cry (I do not suggest this…it rarely works) and then…I may or may not drop my Manpanion’s name. I know. It’s shameful. Now, with all my shameful tactics in mind, I do respect what these men and women do and I know they deal with a large number of people who are rude and disrespectful. It’s not the officer’s fault that he pulled you over. It’s your fault. So, at the end of my encounter, good outcome or less favorable outcome, I do my best to smile and thank the officer for what they do. Believe me, I have to swallow my pride (and my tears) to be able to say “Thank you” for a costly speeding ticket.

In my circle of friends, I get to hear “old war stories” from Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) who have dealt with the part of our society who have fallen into an unforgiving cycle of bad behavior, drugs, theft, and prostitution. (Ahem…please note that my speeding stories do not fall into any of these categories). Some stories are funny, some have made me shudder, and some have caused a tear or two. LEOs deal with people who have turned on each other and then turn on the Officer too. Simple assault and simple battery against officers are an everyday reality. Aggravated assault, terroristic threats, and “solicitations of sodomy” are pretty common as well. And then these people who assault and threaten these LEOs are arrested and have a court date and, sometimes, allowed to plead to something less than what they actually committed. Not only do these criminals disrupt the peace, break the law, and often, cause physical harm to others, they also regularly assault the men and women who are there to protect our safety.

It is because of this that Lance LoRusso, an Atlanta Attorney and former Police Officer, drafted a bill with the help of State Senator Lindsey Tippins and State Senator Tommie Williams to provide additional offenses for those who commit crimes against an LEO and make it impossible for them to obtain first offender status. The bill has made it through the Senate and is now in the House (thanks to House Rep. Alex Atwood).

LoRusso said:

 I drafted and submitted this bill after working with LEOs who were injured, some severely, only to find that the perpetrator was given First Offender status…In our society, we rely on law enforcement to protect us. When a suspect assaults, attacks or injures a LEO, he or she has just faced the highest level of force our constitution will allow us to use to stop crime. The actions of that suspect should be treated differently.

I couldn’t agree more.

12 comments

  1. CobbGOPer says:

    “In our society, we rely on law enforcement to protect us.”

    I don’t know where this guy thinks he lives, but the cops have absolutely no duty to “protect us,” which is why so many people across this country own personal firearms. And honestly, police rarely do anything more than clean up the mess after a crime has already been committed and later bring the perpetrator to justice (hopefully, unless you had something stolen from you in which case the police will look “real hard” for it while going for coffee).

    As for additional penalties for crimes against LEOs, I just don’t trust it. First Offender status was initiated for a reason in court. What you’re telling me is that because the prosecuting attorneys are so unpersuasive to the presiding judge that they can’t block a first offender ruling, therefore we need more laws.

    I think you need better prosecutors, not more laws. Besides, I’m not really interested in even more laws specially protecting certain groups of government employees, no matter who they are. Cops know the dangers when they sign up for the job, just like soldiers. And adding additional penalties to “crimes” against LEOs is not going to reduce those crimes one bit, but they’ll certainly cost us taxpayers in additional court and jail/prison costs.

    We’re trying to reform sentencing laws in this state, not make them more complicated.

    • Max Power says:

      I know Lance, I like Lance, but this bill is unnecessary. First let me say that there are plenty, perhaps the majority of LEOs who are straight as an arrow. But there are many, too many who engage in casual dishonesty to the extent that it shakes your faith in the system. I don’t think we need to be reminded of Kathryn Johnston. In too many of these cases it’s simply the LEOs word against the suspects and who do you think the jury believes 99% of the time.

      And then there’s subsection 6(A)(iii) ” Obstruction of a law enforcement officer in violation of subsection (b) of Code Section 16-10-24, if such violation results in serious physical harm or injury to such officer” It’s too vague. What the heck do you define as serious physical harm or injury? If you’re 18 years old and drinking a beer behind the school and run from the school resource officer, he slips and breaks his arm, boom you’ve just committed a felony your life is basically over. If you try to prevent a cop from busting down your door and he get’s a splinter in his eye, does that qualify as a serious injury?

      Finally, as my friend above says there’s simply not a need for this. If a prosecutor can’t convince a judge not to give FO to some guy who beats the crap out of a cop, shame on the prosecutor.

      • Dave Bearse says:

        As Max points out, the devil is in the details or lack therof, and there are unintended consequence to consider, as we saw happened to Genarlow Wilson when changes to molestation sailed to passage.

    • elfiii says:

      @ CobbGOPer “I think you need better prosecutors, not more laws.”

      Not to quibble but maybe some better judges might help too? 🙂

        • elfiii says:

          The same can be said about the persecutors.

          On the other hand, we don’t get a choice as far as the perps go. We get what we get.

          Doesn’t seem fair does it? The days of truly salacious stories about tri state crime sprees by axe murderers are long gone. I guess the axe has fallen out of style with the perp community.

    • dorian says:

      You think we need better prosecutors? Let me tell you something, there is NO way that is going to happen. The era of the career prosecutor ended a few years ago when the legislature changed the retirement plan for all state employees to a 401k. That was the ONLY advantage to working in a DA’s or Solicitor’s office. The only people who become prosecutors now are the kids right out of law school or those who can’t find a job doing something else. Primarily though, prosecutor offices will be reduced to being some type of “trial clinic” for new lawyers to get experience before they go on to something else. There are no advantages to pay. Pay has been frozen for over three years. There is no advantage in retirement. You hear that the State should be run like a business, in every way except paying people what they are worth. Maybe when attorneys with six months of experience have to start trying rapes and murders someone in the State of Atlanta will start to pay attention.

      • saltycracker says:

        The pension plan is a combined 401k/defined program isn’t it ? With a 401k (some portion state matching) the prosecutor can walk with their savings and not be held hostage. Looks like they can retire at 90%+ for 30 years. http://www.ers.ga.gov/plans/ers/gseps/gsepsmain.aspx

        Don’t think highly capable folks or new hires are primarily motivated by retirement benefits far exceeding private business practices. If they are then that’s a big problem and would be with any public servant.
        The motivators ? Status, recognition, pay, opportunities, maybe even public service.

  2. CobbGOPer says:

    Alternately, I’d be perfectly fine with this law if it provides reciprocity: if a cop is tried and convicted for committing a crime against a civilian, whom they are “sworn to protect,” then that cop should get double the normal sentence for the particular crime. Fair is fair, right?

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