A lawmaker from Northern Nevada has proposed classifying attacks on police officers as hate crimes.
Assemblyman John Ellison, a Republican from Elko, submitted draft legislation that would also lengthen sentences for attacks on law enforcement and other first responders. His measure will be considered when the Legislature meets next year.
Similar bills are being considered in several states in support of Blue Lives Matter, which began after the slayings of two New York City police officers in late 2014.
Blue Lives Matter is a response to Black Lives Matter, an activist movement to protest what it says are systemic racism and violence inflicted on the black community by police.
“This is not about color. This is not about race. This is about those we pay to protect us," Ellison told KNPR's State of Nevada.
He said the bill would stiffen penalties for people who try to harm or actual do harm police officers, first responders, and firefighters.
Ellison pointed to the attack at a Carson City IHOP in 2011 that left four members of the National Guard dead as an example of a direct attack on law enforcement in Nevada. But he admitted besides that attack and the officers in Las Vegas, who were gunned down while eating lunch 2014, there have been few incidents in Nevada for which this law would apply.
“We don’t really see this kind of problem,” he said.
Besides the Carson City incident, Ellison said the kind of violence against firefighters and emergency medical technicians that was reported during the Los Angeles riots in 1992 "stuck in his mind."
“We need to do something to protect the people who protect us," he said.
Assemblyman John Ellison, R-Elko