ROCHESTER, NY (WROC-TV) The Monroe County Legislature approved a new bill this week that would punish people for harassing first responders.
Those who support it say it provides more protection, while those opposed say it’s too vague. Punishments include jail time and/or an up to $5,000 fine.
“As first responders, as paramedics, we frequently get harassed,” Reg Allen, Chief of CHS Mobile Integrated Healthcare, said. Allen said it’s a good move.
“Anything that can enhance the safety of first responders I’m all about,” Allen said.
Republican legislator Karla Boyce helped draft the legislation hoping to help further protect first responders. “This will give more ‘teeth’ to our district attorney to prosecute,” Boyce said.
Democratic legislator Vince Felder opposes the motion, saying there are enough laws on the books to protect police and others from assault and this bill defines harassment broadly.
“The law is ridiculously vague,” Felder said.
Captain Alan Laird with the Irondequoit Police Department, said there are laws on the books, but a clear distinction needs to be made.
“So I think it’s very important to designate the difference between harassment and what an assault is,” Capt. Laird said. “Police, fire, EMS, we’re there to help everyone in their worst times.”
Allen said harassment will be likely determined based off of a number of factors mostly, was it deliberate?
“Was it someone who really knew what they were doing and was trying to be intimidating and harass? EMS people, paramedics and EMTs, have the highest rates of injuries on the job by someone we’re trying to help,” Allen said.