A new legislative session is underway on Beacon Hill and your MassCOP leadership team is already monitoring close to 150 bills and advocating for the interests of our more than 4,600 members.
We all know 2020 was an historically challenging year for police officers in Massachusetts and nationwide. As professionals dedicated to protecting and serving our communities, it is disappointing and disheartening when the public narrative so wrongly turns against the men and women of law enforcement.
Nonetheless, our commitment and dedication is unwavering and our oath to serve communities across the Commonwealth is sacred. To support you in that mission, your MassCOP leadership team works everyday to educate, advocate, enlighten and fight at the State House to make the lives of our members better.
We have many important initiatives we are tracking, and we are putting the support of MassCOP behind a number of key initiatives. Some of the top priorities for the new legislative session are:
• HD-1794 – Sponsored by Rep. Zlotnik is An Act relative to providing a COVID-19 retirement credit to essential public-sector workers. (This bill has already received a lot of attention and media coverage, as it would have a major impact on recognizing the work and sacrifice of all front-line public sector workers.)
• SD-1119 – An Act relative to disability pensions for public safety employees who are victims of violence and HD-2438 – An Act relative to disability pensions for violent crimes. (We appreciate and are supportive of Sen. Tarr and Rep. Kearney for their sponsorship of these bills.)
• HD-1272 – An Act relative to mandatory sentences for those committing an assault on a law enforcement officer. (Rep. Dooley is sponsoring this important legislation.) and SD-882 An Act relative to the protection of police officers. (This is sponsored by Sen. O’Connor.)
• HD-1781 – An Act relative to the disability or death caused by post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. (PTSD is major issue for police officers and all first responders. We see the impact almost every week through the services we offer and engagement by our members in the MassCOP Peer Support Program. We are grateful that Rep. McGonagle has filed this.)
• HD-2626 – An Act relative to disability or death caused by contagious diseases; presumption. (Rep. Garlick sponsored this – one of several ‘presumption’ bills addressing the front-line work of public safety and other public sector employees. We are generally supportive of all such bills – including HD-2795 filed by Rep. Arciero and SD-550 filed by Sen. Moore, both titled An Act relative to emergency hazard health duty.)
•HD-2923 – An Act relative to due process and HD-2877- An Act relative to body worn cameras.(Rep. Lawn and Rep. Silvia have filed these respective bills. On due process, body cameras and other areas contemplated under the police reform law, we will continue to be fiercely vocal in advocating for positive initiatives that are supportive of law enforcement on the job.)
Those are just some of our legislative priorities. Again, we are tracking close to 150 bills and will be updating our members throughout the legislative session. As we did last year, we will no doubt be calling on you to provide your voice and support on key measures.
Finally, I do want to mention one other piece of legislation that I have a personal interest in seeing approved. It is HD-59 – An Act requiring instruction in CPR and the use of defibrillators to qualify for high school graduation. Amazingly, similar measures offered in the past have not been approved.
It became very personal when my neighbor’s 17-year-old son collapsed playing a pick-up game of basketball. Thankfully, a mother at the scene was able to revive him, and then Peabody Fire, Peabody Police and Atlantic Ambulance personnel continued with emergency care.
While not specific to the policy priorities of law enforcement, I hope you would consider joining me in support of this important measure.
Thank you for your friendship and your service.
First Vice President