New Orleans police (Getty Images)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana has become the first state in the nation to expand its hate-crime laws to protect police, firefighters and emergency medical crews.

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Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, whose family includes four generations of sheriffs, signed the law on Thursday. He said it protects “men and women who put their lives on the line every day.”

Prosecutors can now seek stronger penalties when first responders are intentionally targeted because of their professions.

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That’s a departure from the other more essential characteristics hate crime laws protect, such as a victim’s race, religion or gender. Some advocates worry that adding jobs to the list weakens these laws, and complicates the relationship between police and their communities.

Similar so-called Blue Lives Matter bills have stalled in five other states.

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