My name is State Representative Paul Frost. I serve in House Floor Leadership as the Assistant Republican Whip in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. In the very early morning hours of Sunday, May 22, 2016, in my hometown of Auburn, MA on the very street I live on, Auburn Police Officer Ronald Tarentino, Jr. was shot and killed in the line of duty during a routine traffic stop.
The killer was well known to law enforcement and had on two other occasions physically assaulted uniformed police officers. The biggest questions being asked in the community are why was this individual on our streets in the first place?
As the days went by following this senseless tragedy many police officers began asking for legislation to make Assault & Battery with Bodily Injury against a police officer performing their duty a felony charge. Under current law such an attack on a police officer is only a misdemeanor even though is some cases attacking a firefighter on the job is a felony.
It’s clear the law in Massachusetts must be updated and we should give police officers the same protections under the law we give firefighters. Therefore, I filed bi-partisan legislation with Representative Kate Campanale (R-Leicester), Representative Tim Whelan (R-Brewster) and Senator Michael Moore (D-Millbury) to make Assault & Battery with Serious Bodily Injury against a police officer while performing their duties a felony charge. Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito filed similar legislation as well.
We will give prosecutors and judges more options when dealing with a dangerous individual who has no qualms about attacking our police and keep them off our streets. We need to send a message that a “War on Police” will not be tolerated by our Commonwealth.
Through tragedy we do find blemishes in our laws which need to be fixed or adjusted. I strongly believe this is one of those times and one of those issues. We can make a difference in better protecting our men and women in blue and by doing so, protect the lives of all our citizens.