Indiana lawmaker drafts legislation to address online threats against police
Indiana State Rep. Wendy McNamara says she wants to find a way to protect public safety officials from credible threats online.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- They put their lives on the line to protect the public, and now there's a new effort in Indiana to keep officers safe.
With five officers were killed in Dallas and three were killed in Baton Rouge last month, law enforcement agencies across the country are on edge.
"It's a constant reminder," said Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel. "We all knew when we signed up to be police officers that, unfortunately, we could have to give the ultimate sacrifice."
With police facing danger, Indiana State Representative Wendy McNamara says she's drafted legislation that would make it a felony to threaten public safety officials. She says the day after the Dallas shootings, she was contacted about a threat on social media against Evansville Police made by a known gang member.
"We can't do anything about it in the state," she told WDRB News in a phone interview. "There's nothing to cover blanket threats."
She say threats made against an individual right now can be addressed, but not ones aimed at the department as a whole.
When the bill comes up in session, she does expect push back from those who want to protect the first amendment.
"The credibility of the threat will definitely be a part of it," McNamara said. "But the fear and intimidation factor will also be a part that will have to proven."
She calls the legislation a potential new tool for prosecutors. Noel says it could help departments like his too.
"Legislation to this effect could help us as an investigative tool to stop a plan before its enacted," Noel said.
McNamara says she wants the proposal to encourage people to support law enforcement and for officers to get that message.
"It makes us feel good that people are realizing the job and how tough police work is," Noel said.
We're told this new legislation would also apply to departments like fire and EMS.
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