Louisiana would be among the first states to make it a hate crime to target police officers and firefighters, if legislation that is being pushed at the State Capitol this session is successful, reports the Advocate.

Supporters argue that new protections are needed for law enforcement because of recent cases of targeted crimes against first responders. Meanwhile, critics say the effort is unnecessary and distracts from the point of hate crime laws.

House Bill 953, which would expand the state hate crime law and ultimately increase penalties for certain crimes that target law enforcement and firefighters in Louisiana, passed through a state House committee on Wednesday after little discussion.

"We have a pretty extensive hate crime law right now, but I believe we should add firefighters and policemen," said Rep. Lance Harris, an Alexandria Republican pushing the bill.

HB953 still has to be taken up by the full House and would also have to be vetted by the Senate before it could become law.

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