Senate passes bill criminalizing police insults

FRANKFORT — The Senate passed a bill Thursday evening to enhance penalties for crimes related to rioting after more than an hour of heated debate, including criticism that it would criminalize insulting police officers and chill protected free speech.

Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Benton, a retired police officer, said his Senate Bill 211 would crack down on and send a message to those who “tried to destroy the city of Louisville” in the civil unrest last year.

In addition to raising punishments on crimes related to rioting and prohibiting early release on such offenses, SB 211 would make it a crime to provoke an officer verbally to the point it could provoke a violent response.

Though Carroll said “insulting an officer is not going to cause anyone to go to jail,” his bill states a person is guilty of disorderly conduct — a Class B misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 90 days’ imprisonment — if he or she “accosts, insults, taunts, or challenges a law enforcement officer with offensive or derisive words, or by 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.”

Source: USA Today – Breaking News

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