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Harassing or annoying first responders could mean jail time in Monroe County

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Soon harassing a police officer of first responder could get you tossed in jail. That’s what could happen under a proposed bill in Monroe County crafted by two Republican lawmakers.

“We are proud to announce a local law that will prohibit the harassment of police officers , peace officers, and first responders,” said Karla Boyce, Republican Monroe County Legislator.

Monroe County lawmakers are looking to further protect first responders. Citing last weeks attack on Rochester police officer Denny Wright they say passing the bill is a matter of urgency.

“I hope this law will ease the mind of our local law enforcement and first responders and curtail the likelihood of more egregious incidents,” said Boyce.

The Democratic Minority leader Cindy Kaleh says she agrees.

“I don’t think that there is a problem with wanting to protect our first responders,” said Kaleh. “They do need to be protected.”

But Kaleh says she is worried about the bill because it’s vague.

“It doesn’t say anything on how it’s to be handled, said Kaleh. “So they are asking us to vote on a law that has no details.”

At a legislature meeting last night other Democrats pointed out simply annoying first responders might get someone thrown in jail. In their eyes a violation of the first amendment. Plus they say if it’s assault there are already laws for that.

But some EMTs would welcome the new bill if passed. Chief Reg Allen says harassment of EMTs is all too common.

“It seems to have become a part of the culture of the job,” said Reg Allen, Chief of CHS Mobile Integrated Healthcare. “Getting spit on, yelled at, and threatened.”

Although Allen says he agrees that county Republican lawmakers need to include details before the bill is passed, he says it’s long overdue.

“It’s just another layer of people realizing you have to respect the fact that we are here to help and not to hurt you,” said Allen.

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