A Republican New York lawmaker said Friday on "America's Newsroom" that common sense in the state is "lacking," particularly over some Democrats' opposition to a bill which would increase penalties for throwing water on police officers.
"It's a serious offense, but people want to shrug it off and say it's no big deal," State Assemblyman Mike LiPetri told anchor Julie Banderas, arguing officers must know that they have the backing from politicians so they can respond appropriately.
LiPetri and other Republicans are introducing a bill that would make throwing or spraying water "or any other substance" on a police officer a class E felony and punishable by up to four years in jail. The bill came in response to viral videos last month which showed people dousing NYPD officers with water, including one man throwing an empty bucket that hit an officer in the head.
The officers declined to respond to the dousings, but walked away, prompting a backlash against New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio over a perceived anti-police climate in the city. The NYPD later arrested several people, including a gang member, as President Trump called the videos a "total disgrace."
LiPetri was asked by Banderas how officers could possibly feel that they would not be supported if they arrested the perpetrators.
"Right now we're lacking common sense in New York state it seems. Both sides of the aisle should agree with this. Ultimately, if you're for safe communities, you're for this bill," he said, responding to initial opposition by Democratic State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
"It's counterintuitive because what they're trying to say is we want our communities safe but yet we're not gonna allow our police to do their job. ... It's sad that we now have to legislate civility," said LiPetri, cautioning about the message being sent to communities when police officers fail to respond to such provocations.
"What message are we sending to police officers who are out there risking their lives day after day that it's OK to come after you?" Banderas asked.
"Certain politicians, they frankly don't care," he answered.
Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who co-sponsors the legislation, said that Heastie's opposition was “problematic” but also expressed hope that a number of Democrats would back the bill. The assembly is currently out of session until January, which is when the bill could be taken up by the legislature.
“Most of our elected officials say they stand with the NYPD and they support our police but this an opportunity for them to put their money where their mouth is and actually back that up with common-sense legislation that will punish those anarchists who disrespect our police and try to hinder their response to crime scenes,” she told Fox News