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Saturday, March 13, 2021

Bill criminalizing sex crimes by police headed to governor’s desk

Rep. Rachel Roberts, D-Newport, presenting Senate Bill 52, a measure relating to sexual offenses by peace officers, on the House floor.


Almost everyone Rep. Rachel Roberts, D-Newport, spoke to about Senate Bill 52 asked: “How is this not already law in Kentucky?”
 
SB 52 will make it illegal for peace officers to engage in a sexual act with someone under investigation, under arrest or in-custody by amending second-degree sexual abuse, third-degree rape and third-degree sodomy statues.
 
The Kentucky House of Representatives voted to approve the measure by a 93-1 vote today. The KY Senate vote unanimously in favor of the bill last month. SB 52 will now head to the governor’s desk for his signature or veto.
 
“Today, with your yes vote, we can assure this is our law and that there are protections for those in custody against sexual assault at the hands of those who are sworn to protect us,” Roberts said on the House floor. 
 
Roberts and Rep. Samara Heavrin, R-Leitchfield, presented the bill on the House floor on behalf of the bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Denise Harper Angel, D-Louisville.
 
Another Senate bill was considered on the House floor today regarding peace officer misconduct.
 
Senate Bill 80 would strengthen the police decertification process by expanding the number of acts considered professional wrongdoing. Such acts would include unjustified use of excessive or deadly force and engaging in a sexual relationship with a victim.
 
“We’re all staunch supporters of our law enforcement, but are also very mindful that sometimes there’s bad actors in every profession and we want to see ourselves rid of that,” said Rep. John Blanton, R-Salyersville, who presented the bill on the House floor on behalf of primary sponsor Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Benton.
 
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The bill also would require an officer to intervene when another officer is engaging in the use of unlawful and unjustified excessive or deadly force.
 
It would also set up a system for an officer’s automatic decertification under certain circumstances and would prevent an officer from avoiding decertification by resigning before an internal investigation is complete.
 
After clearing the Senate by a unanimous vote last month, SB 80 was also unanimously approved by the House today.
 
Due to a floor amendment on the bill, it will return to the Senate for concurrence. If the Senate approves the changes, it will be sent to the governor’s desk for his approval or veto.

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