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Previously known as ‘being a jackass’, the act of actually annoying a police officer is considered a crime under a bill which recently passed in the New York Senate.

According to a report from WIVB, the act of annoying an officer must be accompanied by physical contact, but would be subject to penalty nonetheless.

A bill currently making its way through the State Legislature would make it a crime to annoy a police officer, a move that could have far reaching consequences.

The State Senate passed the bill Wednesday that makes it felony to “harass, annoy, threaten or alarm” an on duty police officer by subjecting them to any physical contact.

A press release from the NYS Senate originally stated, “The bill (S.2402), sponsored by Senator Joe Griffo (R-C-I, Rome) would make it a felony to harass, annoy, or threaten a police officer while on duty.” However, as the bill is written, a person would be guilty of aggravated harassment of a police officer if he or she subjected that officer to physical contact with the intent to “harass, annoy, threaten or alarm” that officer.

Aside from the confusing press release, the problem here lies in the definition of ‘annoy’.  Specifically, it’s not defined.  While it would seem clear in most cases what would constitute a violation, the fact that it is not defined opens this law up to some very vague interpretations.

Additionally, the coupling of the act of annoyance with physical contact is worded rather poorly within the proposed law.

S 240.33 AGGRAVATED HARASSMENT OF A POLICE OFFICER OR PEACE OFFICER.

A  PERSON  IS  GUILTY  OF AGGRAVATED HARASSMENT OF A POLICE OFFICER OR PEACE OFFICER WHEN, WITH THE INTENT TO HARASS, ANNOY, THREATEN OR  ALARM A  PERSON  WHOM HE OR SHE KNOWS OR REASONABLY SHOULD KNOW TO BE A POLICE OFFICER OR PEACE OFFICER ENGAGED IN THE COURSE  OF PERFORMING HIS OR HER OFFICIAL DUTIES, HE OR SHE STRIKES, SHOVES, KICKS OR OTHERWISE  SUBJECTS SUCH PERSON TO PHYSICAL CONTACT.  AGGRAVATED  HARASSMENT OF A POLICE OFFICER OR PEACE OFFICER IS A CLASS E FELONY.

Notice it says “subjects such person to physical contact”.  Subjecting a person to something is quite different from the act.

I’m all for protecting our men and women in uniform, but this law seems to infringe on freedom of speech issues, has far-reaching consequences,  and certainly needs to be clarified.

What say you?