The start of the new year means new laws take effect including one that aims to give officers more rights and protect them from community harassment. 

 “We’re finding more people challenging us now than they ever had before,” said Vince Champion from the International Brotherhood of Police Officers in an interview conducted back in June.

At the time, protests against police brutality were at an all-time high. Back then Champion told CBS46 officers felt unsupported. 

“I understand what we signed up for when we sign to become cops. We understand it’s not a pretty job, we understand that we could get hurt or even killed, we understand we could be in a lawsuit based on just what we do for a jobs but what we don’t understand and don’t except is that the DA and everyone else to come actually looking for us,” added Champion.

But, as of January 1, officers have additional protection in a new law called, "Bias Motivated Intimidation of First Responders Prosecution Act." The legislation says a person could serve 1-5 years in prison if found guilty of maliciously harassing a first responder, causing bodily harm, death or damage to property.  But Atlanta City councilmember Antonio Brown says we must start having vision in how we address complex issues.

“People have loss their lives and become martyrs in the face of change in our city, state and country and this is a complete disrespect to these individuals families,” added Councilman Brown.

Brown says he does not support defunding the police but adds we need to come up with a way to better understand the systemic impacts of how bad policies like the new police protection legislation have plagued our country.

“I believe the new police protection legislation that governor Kemp signed into law is reactive and a complete slap in the face of all the community organizers, activist, local municipalities that have worked tirelessly, not just during the unrest we’ve seen over the last year but over the last decade, to bridge the divide between police and community,” added Brown.

The new law also allows officers to bring a civil lawsuit against any person or group for abridgment of the officer's civil rights.

Copyright 2020 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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