Thursday, December 07, 2006

Proposed "Honoring Community Heroes" Act

10th District Legislator to introduce bill to shield families of fallen police officers from protesters at Memorial Services

Rep. Chris Strow, R-Freeland (WA), today announced the first bill he will introduce on Dec. 18, for the 2007 session, is the “Honoring Community Heroes Act.” The act will serve to protect memorials to and families of fallen police officers. The bill will be co-sponsored by Rep. Mark Ericks, D-Bothell.

“This bill is about shielding the families during their time of mourning,” said Strow. “Much like our military heroes, our police serve our communities and protect our homes and families each and every day. Our fallen officers should be honored for their work and their families should be allowed to grieve in peace at their memorial service and police memorials where they are being honored.”

The legislation, much like the “Rest in Peace Act” that passed in the House last year, will require a 500-foot buffer for protesters at a funeral service or burial of a police officer; interrupting a funeral procession for a fallen officer; protesting at a building or memorial service honoring a fallen officer; or, knowingly participating in an act that adversely affects the funeral, burial or memorial of a fallen police officer. Under the legislation, protesters would be charged with disorderly conduct if they refuse to stop their actions.

This measure will also apply to groups setting up memorials for the perpetrator of the crime side-by-side with the slain officer’s memorial. Strow said the impetus for the legislation was the recent vigil held to honor the men accused of murdering King County sheriff’s deputy Steve Cox. “These protests, or as they call them vigils, for murderers at the site of the memorial honoring the hero they killed is an abomination to all we hold dear – honoring those who serve and protect at the risk of losing their life to save ours,” said Strow. “I can only imagine the sorrow and heartache of a family forced to listen to disparaging remarks just feet away from the gravesite or memorial of the family member or close friend they are memorializing,” said Strow. “I hope this bill passes the first week of session to out of respect for the families who have lost their loved one in the line of duty.”

Reps. Strow and Ericks plan to file the “Honoring Community Heroes Act” legislation on Dec. 18, the first day members can pre-file House bills for the 2007 session.

The preceding release is direct from Chris Strow's staff. I've known Chris for many years, clear back to his first year as an assistant to Sen. Jack Metcalf in Olympia. Good for Chris!


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