Police Say Assault Measure is Needed
14 March 2003
They Asked the Senate to Make Attack on Officer a Felony House Has Passed a Bill
Sun Staff Julie Bykowicz
A 54 second arrest attempt ended Kathleen Irwin’s 11 year career as a Baltimore police officer and left her bedridden and in a full body brace for months.
The drunken man who shoved her into a metal shelving unit ruptured a disc in her lower back, was charged with a misdemeanor and sentenced to 18 months of unsupervised probation.
This legislative session, police officers have stepped up their efforts for passage of a bill that would make assaulting an officer a felony. After four consecutive years of failure, the bill has made it further than ever this year.
“It is my belief that if I were able to charge this suspect as a felon, he would’ve gotten a more appropriate penalty,” Irwin told state senators this week at a hearing of the Senate judicial proceedings committee.
The house version of the bill passed 134 to 0 last week, and it Senate twin has 22 cosponsors of it makes it out of committee, the bill will need a simple majority of 24 votes in the Senate to head to the governor’s desk.
“This will give police officers one more weapon in their arsenal,” said O’Brien Atkinson, president of the Anne Arundel County fraternal order of police.
“A lot of seriousness goes along with being a convicted felon, and criminals know that.” Marilyn ranks fourth in the nation for assaults on law enforcement officers, with about 29 out of 100 officers assaulted in the line of duty each year
Of the 3947 officers assaulted in 2001, 572 were seriously injured, according to the latest uniform crime report available.
Officers say the current felony assault law, which requires intent, does not work for them because their injuries are more often the result of someone struggling to escape custody then from someone deliberately trying to hurt them.
Animal cruelty laws make it an automatic felony to assault the police dog, something law enforcement officers repeatedly pointed out at Tuesday’s hearing.
“Worthy of no less”
“Surely the men and women who protect you are worthy of no less consideration,” Anne Arundel County Sheriff George F. Johnson the fourth said during the hearing.
Anne Arundel County law enforcement agencies and unions who were closest to the state capital. Have campaigned hard for the bill, showing up in droves each time there is action on it.
Sen. Janet Greenup, and Anne Arundel County Republican, introduced a bill in January. She said a heavily amended version of her Bill addressed the concerns of some of her fellow legislators that every scuffle with police might qualify as a felony assault. The bill excludes “minor, temporary injuries.”
Greenup began pushing for the bill last year as a delicate when it failed to make it out of committee, she brought it to the floor as an amendment to a crime bill.
“People are finally waking up to the fact that we need these policeman, and we need to protect them in any way that we can,” Greenup said
The bills staunchest opponent have been defense attorneys, who say putting law enforcement officers into a special category could drive a wedge between police officers in the community they serve.
Testifying against the bill Tuesday, Stanley D. Jenner, a public defender in Baltimore, said it is “against public policy, this appropriate disproportionate and unnecessary.” Prosecutors on the bill. Douglas F. Gansler, the Montgomery County State’s Attorney, spoke in favor of the bill. William M teeth, and Anne Arundel prosecutor who tracks legislation for the Maryland state attorneys Association criticized it. “The community better looking long and hard before it passes this bill,” he said among his objections, he said is a fear that bumping into a police officer could be categorized as a felony. Greenup said her Bill makes it clear that such minor incidents would not qualify.
Gift favored a measure introduced by Sen. John A Giannetti Junior, a Prince George County Democrat, that instead of creating a separate assault category for law enforcement officers would add five years to first – and second – degree assault sentence says when the person assaults and officer.
Steve said the Marilyn states attorneys Association endorses unities bill.
Most law enforcement professionals at the hearing did not endorse and is bill, saying their flight to make assaulting an officer a more serious crime is aimed more at preventing than at increasing sentences.
“When someone is disorderly, we want to be able to look at them and say, “you assault me and it’s a felony,” Atkinson said
20 February, 1993 12:03 PM police officer Kathy Irwin was chasing a shoplifter when the shoplifter turned and pushed her into some shelves which eventually turned fell on top of Officer Irwin causing a serious back injury which later needed surgery to area C for of her spinal cord forcing her retirement in 1995
Copyright © 2002 Baltimore City Police History - Ret Det Kenny Driscoll
|Date of Injury||20 February, 1993|
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