BOSTON – State Representative Paul K. Frost (R-Auburn) announces the successful passage of his amendment to protect police officers in the House Criminal Justice Reform Bill debated on Tuesday, November 14, 2017. The amendment makes Assault and Battery with Serious Bodily Injury on a Police Officer a felony charge, rather than a misdemeanor charge as designated by current Massachusetts law. The Frost amendment, adopted by the House of Representatives, featured language used by Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito in a bill the administration had filed earlier this year.
After Auburn Police Officer Ronald Tarentino, Jr. was shot and killed on Rochdale Street in Auburn on May 22, 2016, local law enforcement and beyond called for a change to the law regarding how Assault and Battery on police should be treated. Officer Tarentino’s killer had several prior assaults on police officers. Legislation to address these issues was filed by Representative Frost, Representative Campanale and Senator Michael Moore, as well as the Baker / Polito Administration in the wake of Officer Tarentino’s tragic death.
The language of the amendment not only seeks to make it a felony charge for Assault and Battery with Serious Bodily Injury instead of a misdemeanor, it also contains language allowing District Attorneys to ask the Court to hold someone for committing an Assault and Battery on a police officer for a Dangerous Hearing. This option would be aimed at keeping those who are extremely dangerous in custody longer instead of releasing them on bail and risking them hurting or attacking others.
Frost commented, “I’m pleased we were successful in having this included in the Criminal Justice Reform Bill as we are fixing an inequity in the law. Assault and Battery on Firefighters and even Police Dogs can be treated as felony charges while the same actions against police officers are merely misdemeanors. This makes no sense, and we are making progress to make it right and fair. We, as a society, have an obligation to protect our men and women in blue when they are on our streets and in our neighborhoods protecting all of us.”
The House version of the Criminal Justice Bill will now go to conference committee to work out the differences from the Senate version.