Albany, NY (WIBX) - A bill sponsored by Senator Joe Griffo to protect police officers has passed the state Senate.

Under Griffo's bill, the state's penal law would be amended to create the crime of aggravated harassment of a police officer -- a Class E felony.

Over the weekend, a Utica Police officer was attacked by four people while responding to a fight.

Griffo says his original interest in developing a new law to safeguard police grew from a similar incident in 2008

Utica Deputy Police Chief Michael Bailey says the law sends a strong message that physical harassment will no longer be tolerated as a slap on the wrist but as a felony crime.

The bill now goes to the Assembly.