COVID-19 is a scary disease. While many people remain unbothered by it, many others are outright hysterical by the possibility of the disease. Neither are, in my opinion, an appropriate reaction.
Then again, there are those who see this as a golden opportunity to take advantage of things. Not just the criminals who are using this as a chance to commit crimes, but also those who want to take advantage in other ways.
Right now, state officials have taken over the prosecution of six individuals who tried to threaten law enforcement officers with COVID-19.
Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced Wednesday that the Attorney General’s Office has taken over prosecution of six cases, including one in Plainfield, and is filing upgraded charges against defendants who allegedly threatened police officers by spitting or coughing at them and claiming to have COVID-19.
Jennifer Burgess, 35, of Plainfield, is charged with terroristic threats during a state of emergency (2nd degree), aggravated assault on an officer (4th degree), resisting arrest (3rd degree and disorderly persons offense), throwing bodily fluid at an officer (4th degree), disorderly conduct, and DWI. During a motor vehicle stop on March 16 in Dunellen, Burgess allegedly attempted to elude police and deliberately coughed on an officer, telling the officer that she had the coronavirus.
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.
Five other people are facing similar charges of “terroristic threats during a state of emergency (2nd degree)” for similar antics.
Look, I’m not a fan of whole new laws popping up because of a “state of emergency” simply because it expands government powers at the risk of individual liberty. Yet I can’t imagine threatening police with what amounts to a bioweapon would fly even without a state of emergency in effect. I just can’t see it.
Now, I’m not necessarily saying that COVID-19 came out of a lab in China either intentionally or accidentally. What I am saying, though, is threatening someone with a deadly disease turns any potentially fatal illness into a bioweapon. In my book, it’s no different than pointing a gun-shaped object at someone. It may not be actually be something lethal, but the suspect is banking on people not realizing that.
As such, I have no sympathy for any of these six individuals. None at all.
You may not like police officers for whatever reason, but this kind of thing simply isn’t acceptable. Frankly, though, those charges also need to be filed on anyone making such a threat regardless of just who they threaten. This shouldn’t be relegated to just prosecuting those who threaten cops, but anyone. Again, it’s a bioweapon at that point and they should be treated as such.
In fact, I think it would be hilarious to send these turdnuggets down to Gitmo for a few weeks. They want to act like terrorists, then treat them like terrorists.
I bet that would change their attitudes quite a bit.