Texas poised to make offenses against police hate crimes

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas is moving closer to making offenses against police officers punishable as hate crimes.

The state Senate passed 30-1 on Tuesday a bill adding law enforcement agents to the list of groups targeted by bias or prejudice. Hate crimes against officers would include arson, criminal mischief, graffiti, unlawful restraint, assault and threats.

The proposal would increase penalties for any offenses committed against on-duty officers. It’s designed to create an environment of respect for law enforcement, and to prevent future acts of violence against them — especially following a sniper attack that killed five Dallas police officers last summer.

The bill previously passed the state House. Gov. Greg Abbott has been a vocal supporter.

Still, opponents have argued that hate crimes should apply to individuals’ innate identities, rather than their occupations.