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By Vijaylakshmi Nadar, Edited By Adam Rizvi, TIO: Policemen and women on duty in the USA are now faced with a fresh challenge, of handling offenders, who threaten to spit on them, after scaring them that they are Covid-19 positive. After a few such incidents in different states across the country including New Jersey, attorney general Gurbir Grewal today announced that his office has escalated six such cases by filing upgraded charges against such defendants.
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Last week, I said the time for warnings is over and those violating the Covid-19 emergency orders will face strong law enforcement action,” he said.
“We take all assaults on police officers seriously, but it is especially heinous for someone to spit or cough at an officer in an attempt to infect or threaten to infect them with Covid-19,” said the attorney general He also informed that hundreds of officers across New Jersey are already infected with the virus, which they likely contracted on duty while handling the defendants.
“We have zero tolerance for anyone who uses the coronavirus as a weapon or instrument of terror against officers bravely performing their duties during this health crisis”, he said.
He went on to inform that troopers and officers throughout the state do not have the ability to work from home or practice social distancing while on duty, in the midst of this pandemic.
“Law enforcement comes with many risks, none of which do the men and women who wear a badge shy away from,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan of the New Jersey State Police. “For a defendant to intentionally expose an officer to Covid-19 is not just an assault on that officer, it’s an assault on their family members, fellow officers, and the general public. Anyone who uses the virus as a weapon against an officer will face a swift law enforcement response,” he said.
“We have superseded these criminal cases to ensure that they are prioritized and consistently prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. In four of the six cases, charges have been upgraded to include a second-degree charge of making terroristic threats during a state of emergency, which involves five to 10 years in prison and a fine of 150,000 $. All of them have also been charged with fourth-degree aggravated assault on an officer, which carries a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of $10,000.
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Fourth-degree crimes carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Edited By Adam Rizvi
Source: As per the Office of Attorney General, NJ. USA