The New York State Senate on Wednesday passed a bill would make it a felony to harass, annoy, or threaten an on-duty officer.
The bill establishes this crime as a Class E Felony, punishable by up to four years in prison, according to a news release.
"Police officers who risk their lives every day in our cities and on our highways deserve every possible protection," Senator Joe Griffo, who sponsored the bill, said in a statement. "Those who treat them with disrespect, harass them and create situations that can lead to injuries deserve to pay a price for their actions."
Griffo added that the bill is aimed at punishing those who take any type of physical action in the attempt to intimidate an officer.
"We can see from the rise in incidents that too many people in our society have lost the respect they need to have for a police officer," he said. "We need to make it very clear that when a police officer is performing his duty, every citizen needs to comply and that refusal to comply carries a penalty."
Local police officials have showed strong support for the bill.
"Our police officers have a very dangerous job and need the support of our government leaders to help make them safe,” Utica Police Chief Mark Williams said. "All too often persons are physically challenging police officers in the line of duty."
The police chief said that the consequences are currently too low for offenders and send the wrong message to the public.
"Threats, intimidation and physical force used upon our police officers not only erode respect for our criminal justice system, but also endanger the public as well," he said.
The bill will now be sent to the New York State Assembly.