By Bob Katzen
Gov. Baker filed a bill that would increase penalties for anyone charged with assaulting a police officer. The measure elevates the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony when causing serious bodily harm.
Under current law, sufficient penalties do not exist for individuals who assault police officers and cause serious harm,” said Gov. Baker. “The absence of such penalties makes the job of law enforcement that much harder and more dangerous, and illustrates the need to increase those penalties and ensure the punishment can meet such an offense.”
“Our system should have the ability to respond strongly if an individual attacks and harms one of our police officers,” said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. “Those with such a disdain for the rule of law must know that the Commonwealth will take their actions seriously.”
The measure is opposed by the Massachusetts American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
“Under existing Massachusetts law, charges can already be brought against anyone who assaults an officer and causes serious bodily injury,” said the group’s Legislative Director Gavi Wolfe. “The existing law provides adequate protections and serious consequences.”
“We believe that assaulting a non-officer is just as serious as assaulting an officer, and that legislators should not carve out increased legal privileges for those who have the honor of serving and protecting the public,” said Alex Marthews, Chairman of Digital Fourth, a Massachusetts-based civil liberties organization.