BOSTON – Representative Paul K. Frost (R-Auburn), Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) and Representative Kate D. Campanale (R-Leicester) announced that the Legislature passed an omnibus Criminal Justice Reform Bill which includes language designed to protect police officers in the line of duty. The legislation, which marks the most comprehensive changes to the Commonwealth’s criminal justice laws in several decades, sets forth extensive reforms to the criminal justice system and has been laid on the Governor’s desk for approval.
Among the many changes included within the omnibus bill is a provision sponsored by Representatives Frost and Campanale and Senator Moore that would make an assault and battery on a police officer a felony. Under current law, there is already precedent for some cases of assault on firefighters to be considered a felony crime, however, there is no such provision protecting police officers. Under the new reforms, an assault resulting in significant physical harm to an officer will now be a felony charge rather than a misdemeanor.
Calls from local law enforcement to make this change were spurred by the death of Auburn Police Officer Ronald Tarentino, Jr., who was shot on Rochdale Street in Auburn on May 22, 2016 during a traffic stop by an individual with prior assaults on police officers. Legislation to address this issue was originally 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.
Frost, who took the House Floor to comment on the final version of the Criminal Justice Reform Bill, thanked the members and Governor Baker for their support of this change in the law to better protect our men and women in blue. He thanked the members on behalf of the Tarentino Family, the Auburn and Leicester Police Departments and for all the men and women in blue across the Commonwealth. “Our men and women in blue are doing their jobs to protect us and make our lives safer. They do not deserve to be punching bags or targeted for attack. We owe it to those who protect us this protection under the law.”
“I am proud to support this legislative provision to enhance protections for the men and women who serve in law enforcement,” said Senator Moore, who is a former law enforcement officer and currently serves as Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. “Members of the law enforcement community are placed in harm’s way every day to help ensure public safety. This bill seeks to deter acts of violence committed against on-duty officers.”
“We owe this to the officers, men and women who put their lives on the line on a daily basis,” said Rep. Kate Campanale of Leicester, who serves as the State Representative of Officer Tarentino’s hometown.
S.2371, the Criminal Justice Reform Bill, was enacted by both branches of the Legislature on April 4, 2018. The legislation now heads to Governor Baker’s desk for his review. To continue tracking the bill, please click below.