Pennsylvania, I am so often embarrassed to live here -- and this is one of those times:
In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, earlier this week, lawmakers, police officers and other supporters gathered at the state capitol to celebrate Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. Amid praise for those who wear the badge, state Rep. Dom Costa (D), former chief of the Pittsburgh Police, suggested he would introduce legislation to protect police officers -- not from physical harm, but from getting their feelings hurt by citizens.
Following comments by state Sen. John Rafferty (R), who spoke about criminal targeting of police and encouraged attendees to support his resolution to recognize 2015 as the “Year of the Law Enforcement Officer,” Costa discussed another supposed threat to police."This nonsense that is going today on where police officers are being taunted by people and being provoked, let's face it we’re all human beings, and eventually that emotion will break. And that’s what they’re trying to do," he said, according to Raging Chicken Press, seemingly speaking about anyone who would verbally challenge police.
"So, what I’ve talked to some of my colleagues and the senator [Senator Rafferty] is that we have a bill about taunting a police dog. It’s illegal. There should be out that you can’t taunt a police officer because you’re going to get those emotions up. [We] are looking at that bill to put it forward in the House, and I am sure the Senate will follow. Or at least support that bill."
As Costa points out, it is illegal to taunt any police animal in Pennsylvania -- it's athird degree felony, in fact. In February, a man was arrested after a police K9 began barking at him and he barked back. He was charged with taunting a police dog, public drunkenness and disorderly conduct, and released after posting $15,000 bond.
Taunting and other disrespectful behavior toward a police officer, however, is protected as free speech under the First Amendment. That probably makes sense to anyone who expects humans -- and particularly those with the difficult but necessary job of upholding the law -- to have better control of their emotions than dogs.
Boom! Drops mike, walks away.