BOSTON (CBS) – In response to the killings of multiple Massachusetts police officers, Governor Charlie Baker is proposing sweeping legislation in an attempt to keep dangerous criminals in jail and off the streets.
The governor stood flanked by law enforcement, district attorneys, and victims’ advocates Thursday as he announced his new bill, “An Act to Protect the Commonwealth from Dangerous Criminals.”
The proposal would tighten loopholes that allow dangerous criminals to be let out on bail while waiting for trial.
Some key points of the reform include:
- Allowing police officers to arrest criminals deemed “dangerous” when they violate conditions of release without getting a warrant from a judge.
- Alerting victims before their abusers get out of jail.
- Allowing judges to analyze a full criminal history when deeming “dangerousness,” not just the case at hand.
- Making cutting off a GPS tracker a felony offense.
- Developing a text messaging system to alert defendants of upcoming court dates, “reducing the chance they will forget and have a warrant issued for their arrest.”
“It’s all about fairness. We hear ‘fairness’ all the time,” said Yarmouth Police Chief Frank Frederickson Thursday. He lost Officer Sean Gannon when he was killed in April, allegedly by a dangerous criminal who was out on bail.
“Let me ask you. With this current system that we are working under, was that fair to the Tarentino family? Was it fair to the Gannon family? Was it fair to the Chesna family?” Frederickson said.
Boston Police Commissioner William Gross said the issue of dangerousness isn’t just about police officers, but about all victims. “No one should be a victim of homicide,” he said. “No one. That’s just not designated for police.”
Gross also said that while he supports the governor’s reform efforts, he wants to see individual accountability for those in prosecutorial positions and law enforcement elevated as well.
“Whether you have the tools or not, you should be making accountable decisions that will protect the neighborhoods and not the repeat offender,” he said.
Governor Baker said he hopes the legislature will start debate on the bill soon, and he encourages public hearings on the matter so the legislature can hear from all sides of the debate.