BOSTON (WWLP) – Governor Charlie Baker is calling for tougher penalties for those who injure police officers. The governor has filed legislation to make it a felony to cause serious bodily harm to a police officer. Baker says that the law as it stands is too lenient, and that is harmful to police officers.
“Under current law, sufficient penalties do not exist for individuals who assault police officers and cause serious harm,” Baker said in a news release sent to 22News. “The absence of such penalties makes the job of law enforcement much harder and more dangerous, and illustrates the need to increase those penalties and ensure the punishment can meet such an offense.”
“You’re putting your life on the line; In order for you to get up and do that every day, you should feel a sense of safety,” said Jacquelyn Gabriel of Springfield. “I’m sure there was at one time less crime against officers, so now that there is a higher issue, it’s bringing awareness to how it needs to be longer and extended.”
Under the bill, the maximum sentence for causing serious bodily to a police officer will be increased to 10 years in state prison. Currently, the maximum penalty is two and a half years. The minimum sentence under the bill would be one year.
Some people fear the bill might be too broad in applying penalties. Aziza Holloway of Springfield said, “I do not think it should be put up to ten years. Now, it’s different when you’re talking about a policeman’s life. Now anybody who take a life should be punished for it.”
Former Police Officer Brian O’Brian believes increasing the penalty would make people think twice about assaulting an officer; “Definitely would improve the situation. To realize that if you do something like this, you’re going to be penalized for it. You’ve got to realize you’re going to be penalized for it.”
The proposed law would also prevent judges from continuing such cases without a finding, giving suspended sentences, or placing defendants on probation. Judges will, however, be given the discretion to hold a defendant accused of the offense before trial. Judges are currently required to release defendants in cases of assault on an officer.
Injuries that would be considered serious bodily harm would include broken bones, and injuries that cause loss of vision or risk of death.