Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Utica, is annoyed that his bill to punish those who shove or kick on-duty police officers has been “misrepresented” and “misunderstood.”
The bill creates a felony charge for those who make physical contact with a police officer with the intent to annoy them. Griffo said “annoy” is the definition of “harass,” but critics that don’t understand the bill think he’s trying to legislatively ban irritating behavior.
“Because of everything taking place natonally and the governor’s SAFE Act, there is more hypersensitivity,” Griffo said, “and then they look at the word ‘annoy’ and say, what does that mean? That you can’t go out and say something? And they can do something to you? That’s not the case.”
It passed the Senate last week for the third time, but it’s doomed in the Assembly, Griffo said. Combined with confusion over the word “annoy,” he said New Yorkers are worried about losing their freedoms to the government.
Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff and public speaker on gun rights, mocked the bill at a gun rally in Albany Tuesday.
“I had to see for myself,” Mack said. “Is the state of New York really trying to pass a law that would make you a felon if you annoy a cop? New York, what in the hell are you thinking?”
Griffo said his bill is not trying to empower police or encourage government intrusiveness.
“There have been episodes of violence where those who are on-duty, in uniform, have been pushed, shoved, accosted,” Griffo said. “We just thought that there had to be a consequence there.”
Griffo said he is considering re-wording the bill, as long as different language would achieve the same goal.
“Based on the past history in the Assembly and the reluctance on increased penalties, I think it is highly unlikely that the bill will pass,” he said. “But we will continue to work to modify the thing and try to work with them, because the ultimate idea is to do something that works in society’s best interest.”