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Senate criminalizes bystanders who get within 25 feet of police when told to stop

Law enforcement officers get a 25-foot bubble around them that the public can’t cross when told to stop under a bill that’s a step away from the governor’s desk.

The Senate approved the controversial measure, HB 1186, mostly along party lines Tuesday.

The bill is pretty straightforward – if a person comes within 25 feet of an on-duty police officer after being told to stop, they would now commit a Class C misdemeanor. That’s punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Lawmakers of both parties tried to change the bill in the Senate. Sen. Mike Young (R-Indianapolis) wanted to make an exception for parents, when police have their child.

“We don’t have the right to interfere with the police officer; we don’t have the right to bump the police officer … but we should have the right to be with our minor child,” Young said.

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Sen. Aaron Freeman (R-Indianapolis), the bill’s sponsor, said he understands that impulse.

“But ... when somebody wearing a uniform says ‘Stop, back up,’ I think you should stop and back up for that amount of time,” Freeman said.

READ MORE: Bill would criminalize bystanders who get within 25 feet of police after being told to stop

Sen. Lonnie Randolph (D-East Chicago) had a blunter view of the bill.

“It protects bad cops, that’s what it does,” Randolph said.

The bill is headed back to the House for further consideration.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.