LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – “Blue Lives Matter” it’s a saying we’ve all heard before, and if House Bill 953 passes the saying could become a law.

Louisiana is one of the first states pushing to make it a hate crime to target police officers and first responders.

If passed, House Bill 953 will increase penalties for crimes directed at law enforcement and firefighters.

Many residents in Acadiana say they support the proposal.

Critics, however, say hate crimes typically are in place to protect race, gender, religion and sexual orientation, not occupations.

Dionna Nelson’s father was a police officer.

She said laws need to be in place to protect those who protect and serve:

“You never know if he’s coming home. His life was always on the line. There’s just too many police officers being killed, and firefighters and first responders being killed in the line of duty. There’s just no sense for it.”

Currently in Louisiana, people who are convicted of crimes against a protected class face an additional five years in prison.

The bill will have to be taken up by the full house and be evaluated by the Senate before it can actually become a bill.