Massachusetts cops are worth more dead than alive.
There are two major pro-police bills in front of Massachusetts lawmakers that seek to rectify this grave injustice. The death penalty for cop killers and benefits for permanently injured officers in the line of duty.
We can only hope that our local lawmakers will make the right choice, and vote in support of both bills. Bill S #1531 would protect first responders, including firefighters, who are severely injured in the line of duty.
Two former police officers who were both shot while on the job and survived have spearheaded this bill. Retired Somerville officer Mario Oliveira and retired Woburn officer Bob DeNapoli have made it their mission to get state legislation passed that would improve benefits for officers.
Both officers gave their testimony Tuesday during a hearing at the State House with the Joint Committee on Public Service.
“There were days I sat on my bed, starring at my wall: ‘thinking I should have died. I should have died.’ My family would have been better off,” Oliveira told the Committee.
In Massachusetts, permanently injured officers take home only 72 percent of their base pay. But if they’re killed in the line of duty their family receives 100 percent of that base pay.
Acton police officer Jon Stackhouse told reporter Kerry Kavanaugh, “We’re worth more deceased than alive. Our position is if you’re acting in an official capacity, and you’re on duty, and you’re permanently injured in the line of duty, why should we be penalized for that?”
He’s right. This legislation would let permanently injured officers retire with dignity and not have to deal with financial burdens after a traumatic ordeal.
Moreover, it’s time for the death penalty for cop killers in Massachusetts.
Weymouth police officer Michael Chesna was killed in the line of duty a little over a year ago. Three months earlier, Yarmouth officer Sean Gannon was killed while serving a warrant to a career criminal.
State Rep. Shaunna O’Connell filed a bill with Rep. David DeCoste calling for a death penalty for anyone over the age of 18 convicted of killing a law enforcement officer.
I agree with O’Connell; cop killers should get what they deserve: death. This bill should have been passed years ago.
Yet, the recent deaths of slain officers around the country have placed a spotlight on the dangers cops risk to protect and serve their communities.
Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal, a sheriff’s deputy in Harris County, died after a thug ambushed him and shot him in the back of the head during a traffic stop. The alleged shooter, Robert Solis, was arrested and charged with capital murder. Solis was wanted on a parole violation warrant.
NYPD officer Brian Mulkeen, a 33-year-old Bronx cop and 7-year veteran of the force, was killed early Sunday morning investigating gang activity. He was a member of The Bronx Anti-Crime Unit and when the officers were questioning an individual, the individual fled, and the officers chased and tried to apprehend the suspect. A struggle occurred on the ground, according to NYPD Chief Terence Monohan.
Mulkeen can be heard saying, “He’s reaching for it. He’s reaching for it,” referring to a gun in body-cam footage. Mulkeen was shot three times.
These deaths don’t only affect officers in the department, it affects other officers in other departments all over the country. It’s an attack on every man and woman in blue.
Salem, MA Police Sergeant Danny Tucker, who was a college friend, teammate and bandmate of Mulkeen told Fox & Friends, “He had an unshakable moral fiber about him that I don’t know if I’ve ever seen in anyone else and just a sense of doing the right thing, a sense of duty, and a calling to protect people. He was an incredible person.”
Law enforcement has always been a dangerous profession. There is, however, another cause for the troubling increase in officers’ deaths.
The job takes a psychological toll. Now, suicide claims more officers’ lives than in the line of duty deaths. It’s become an epidemic in New York City.
NYPD Police Commissioner James O’Neill declared a mental health emergency in August following two officers’ suicides. He sent a memo encouraging his officers to seek help for depression and other mental health problems.
This is why President Trump signed a bill providing $7.5 million in grant funding for a year for police suicide prevention and for mental health screenings.
According to Blue H.E.L.P., a Massachusetts nonprofit helping officers with PTSD and depression, there have been more than 120 law enforcement suicides in the U.S. this year. That’s a huge number.
There is evil in this world. But we must let criminal thugs know that change is coming. If you murder a cop, it’s your death sentence. This bill can stop the next shooting. We shouldn’t allow our officers to be gunned down on our streets.
Officer Gannon and officer Chesna’s deaths should have been a wake-up call to our local officials. It’s time to be proactive, not reactive. It’s time we support the thin blue line.
Call your local lawmaker and ask them to support the death penalty for cop killers and bill S #1531 for permanently injured officers.
-Brittany Jennings is the executive producer of “The Kuhner Report,” heard weekdays 6-10 am EST on WRKO AM-680 in Boston. Follow her on Twitter @Brittany_J10.