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Lawmakers Want Protections For First Responders

Kate Payne

Three Republican lawmakers are moving to expand protections for law enforcement. They say they’re concerned about the growing divide between the public and first responders.

Republican Representatives Elizabeth Porter of Lake City, Jimmie Smith of Inverness and Mike Hill of Pensacola have all filed separate bills. Smith’s plans would criminalize so called terroristic threats.

“You can’t yell fire and cause a panic in a theater, it’s the same thing. You can’t run out and say something, offer violence when we know for a fact that you can carry through," he said.

Smith says the plans would not infringe on freedom of speech. The bill follows a Pasco County incident involving a teenager posting threats on social media. Porter’s bill would increase penalties for hate crimes against first responders. Hill’s plans would expand benefits for families of officers killed in the line of duty.