WASHINGTON — The nation's largest police union Tuesday called on Congress and the Obama administration to expand federal hate crimes laws to cover law enforcement officers.
In separate letters to President Barack Obama and Congressional leadership, Fraternal Order of Police President Chuck Canterbury argued if targeting people because of "race, color, creed, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability" leads to a higher penalty, so should attacks explicitly targeting members of the law enforcement community.
"Now Americans who choose to be law enforcement officers, who choose to serve their communities and put their lives on the line for their fellow citizens, find themselves hunted and targeted just because of the uniform they wear," Canterbury said in the letter.
The letter also notes the union has tried to address the hate crime definition with Congress in the past, but has so far been unsuccessful.
Canterbury issued a statement about the issue Monday, but the letters, dated Tuesday, represent a formal call for action.
"My thoughts and prayers over the past few weeks have been with the families of officers who were, with malice and forethought, gunned down just because they served as police officers," Canterbury said in his statement Monday. "Enough is enough! It's time for Congress to do something to protect the men and women who protect us."
According to Canterbury's letter, there were 47 law enforcement officers killed by gunfire in 2014, nine of which were "ambush killings," including NYPD Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were killed in Brooklyn several weeks ago.
"We do not accept that our uniforms alone make us targets because someone was driven to rage over a perceived injustice or desires to strike a blow against our civil government," the letter said.