Lawmakers push for tougher penalties for assaulting police officers

The Judiciary Committee is currently reviewing several bills to change the state's sentencing policies

BOSTON (WWLP) – All too often, we see arrests or encounters with police that went awry. Just last month a Chicopee man was charged with assaulting a police officer.

Now lawmakers are pushing for stricter punishment for residents that assault law enforcement officers.

“We should protect our police officers. We should protect our men and women in blue,” said State Rep. Paul Frost, (R) Auburn. “We’ve got to stop it before it gets to the point of deadly violence.”

The state’s Judiciary Committee heard public testimony on several bills to toughen penalties for people who become violent against police officers.

One proposal would further punish residents that hit or attack law enforcement officers with a gun or weapon by putting them in prison for no less than 10 years. Offenders may also have to pay a maximum fine of $150,000 in addition to serving the mandatory minimum.

Governor Charlie Baker filed a bill that would instead punish offenders with a sentence between one and ten years in state prison.

Lawmakers say the bill could keep potentially dangerous individuals off the streets and keep them from re-offending.

“Anger doesn’t subside when you’re arrested,” said Secretary Daniel Bennett of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. “You can walk out in that court room and still be ready to walk out and assault another police officer.”

The bill is currently under review by the states judiciary committee, but it still has a long way to go in order to come up for a vote before the full legislature.