Massachusetts lawmakers want police attack to be hate crime

AP News
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Posted: Jul 11, 2016 4:49 PM

BOSTON (AP) — Two Massachusetts lawmakers say they want to make attacks against police officers a hate crime.

Democratic Reps. Michelle DuBois, of Brockton, and Alan Silvia, of Fall River, filed a bill following the fatal shooting of five officers in Dallas on Thursday.

The bill would add police officers to the list of protected classes under the state's hate crimes law.

The law currently applies to crimes motivated in part by bigotry based on race, religion, ethnicity, handicap, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.

Silvia, a retired Fall River officer, says police deserve every protection possible under the law.

DuBois says she drafted the bill after Auburn police Officer Ronald Tarentino Jr. was shot and killed during a May 22 traffic stop by a man with a lengthy criminal record that included assaults on police.

DuBois initially planned to file the bill at the start of the next formal session in January but decided to file on Friday after the attack in Dallas.

The Legislature's formal session ends July 31.

The lawmakers say their bill would make Massachusetts the second state to make attacks on police hate crimes.

Lawmakers in other states, including Kentucky, are discussing similar bills. Louisiana became the first state to enact such legislation in May.

A month after Tarentino's death, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker filed a bill to toughen laws and increase potential penalties for people charged with assaulting a police officer.

Baker's bill would upgrade the crime of causing serious bodily injury to an officer from a misdemeanor to a felony and boost the maximum prison time to 10 years. The current maximum is 2 ½ years.

Baker told reporters Monday that he hasn't seen the language of the hate crimes bill but prefers his legislation.