New ‘Blue Lives Matter’ laws raise concerns

In this July 12, 2016 file photo, a member of the Dallas Police Choir passes the portraits of five fallen officers prior to a memorial service at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas. (AP photo)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Following a spike in deadly attacks on police, more than a dozen states have responded this year with “Blue Lives Matter” laws that come down even harder on crimes against law enforcement officers, raising concern among some civil rights activists of a potential setback in police-community relations.

The new measures build upon existing statutes allowing harsher sentences for people who kill or assault police. They impose even tougher penalties, extend them to more offenses, including certain nonviolent ones such as trespassing in Missouri, and broaden the list of victims covered to include off-duty officers, police relatives and some civilians at law enforcement agencies.

Proponents say an escalation of violence against police justifies the heightened protections.