BOSTON – On Tuesday, July 11, 2017, Representative Paul K. Frost (R-Auburn) provided testimony before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary on House Bill 3053, An Act protecting police officers. The legislation seeks to make Assault and Battery on a Police Officer while in performance of their duties a felony charge, as opposed to its current status as a misdemeanor.

H.3053 was filed by Representative Frost along with his colleagues Senator Michael Moore (D-Millbury), Representative Kate Campanale (R-Leicester) and Representative Timothy Whelan (R-Brewster), in response to the tragic loss of Auburn Police Officer Ronald Tarentino Jr. on May 22, 2016, who was shot and killed during a traffic stop. The killer was a known criminal who had two prior arrests for assaulting police officers.

Representative Paul K. Frost (R-Auburn), testifies on a bill before the Judiciary Committee with family members of slain Auburn Police Officer Ronald Tarentino, killed in the line of duty on May 22, 2016. [Submitted photo]

At the hearing in the State House, Representative Frost was joined by members of Officer Tarentino’s family, father Ron Sr. and his sister Caitlin Tarentino. Also present were a number of law enforcement personnel strongly supporting the changes proposed by the bill.

Frost commented, “The men and women in Blue are out there every day and night protecting us from harm. It is incumbent upon us as lawmakers to protect them from harm in return. We need to put a stop to the attacking of police officers. It starts with legislation such as this, that treats assault and battery with bodily injury with a higher standard in our court system, before such offenders are released on misdemeanor charges and these violent acts escalate such as they did on that sad Sunday morning on Rochdale Street in Auburn on May 22, 2016.”

“The time has come for citizens and the media to realize that police officers are people too,” wrote Auburn Chief of Police Andrew Sluckis, in an excerpt of a letter addressed to the committee Representative Frost read during the testimony. “Contrary to some public belief, we do not get paid to be punched, kicked and assaulted. We get paid to protect life and property and to enforce the laws of this Commonwealth. All we want to do at the end of the day is to be able to go home to our families, nothing more.”

Massachusetts General Law features a precedent for some cases of assault and battery on firefighters to be considered a felony crime. Also noted at the hearing were similar standards for police dogs and horses, yet there is currently no such provision protecting the police officers themselves.

H.3053 must be reported favorably out of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary before continuing along the legislative process.