State legislators heard speakers representing both sides of a debate Wednesday as to whether lawmakers should heighten penalties for those who assault police officers.
One bill, filed by Gov. Charlie Baker, would elevate the assault of a police officer from a misdemeanor offense to a felony, and also require judges sentence someone found of causing “serious bodily injury to a police officer” to at least one year in prison, according to State House News.
A similar bill was also filed by Rep. Paul Frost and Sen. Michael Moore.
“Violence on our police is escalating,” Frost, who represents Auburn, reportedly said. “There is a war on our police and I think we’ve got to do something about it. …Members of this committee can take that first step and help us get there.”
A representative with the ACLU of Massachusetts reportedly said the organization was concerned that the recent killings of police officers in Auburn and Dallas may mean legislators could unjustifiably push through legislation without appropriate consideration.
“There are adequate protections already,” Rahsaan Hall, director of the ACLU of Massachusetts’ racial justice program, said. “Certainly we do time and time again send our police officers, our women and men, into some of the most dangerous situations and expect them to deal with all manner of ills of society. We need to be mindful and cautious, given the national dialogue and conversation, that we do not have a knee-jerk reaction to some of the horrific things we have seen.”