Leading up to the November 4 election, Wilmington Apple will be submitting questions each week to both candidates for the 19th Middlesex State Representative seat — incumbent Dave Robertson (D-Tewksbury) and challenger Alec DiFruscia (R-Tewksbury). Have a question for them? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question: What are your thoughts on the “defunding the police” movement? What are your thoughts on the police reform bill that was recently passed in the House?
I fully stand behind all men and women of law enforcement, and I am strongly against all attempts to “defund the police.” We are lucky here in Tewksbury and Wilmington to have best-in-class police departments and town officials who stand behind them.
But the selfless bravery of police officers was not honored in the Police Reform Bill. Both the House and Senate versions called for restrictions on qualified immunity – a move that stands to undermine the confidence we place in police officers while they risk it all on the frontlines, day in and day out. The House version also barred school officials from sharing student information with outside law enforcement agencies, putting the safety and well-being of students at risk.
While moving through the Senate, there was virtually no public input on the bill and even more shockingly, little to no input from the police. As soon as the proposals were unveiled, The Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association went to the media to share their message with the public that the proposals were a “knee-jerk reaction,” and expressed how the group felt “hurt, horrified and confused.” There is no excuse for skirting the democratic process to push a politically motivated agenda.
Police officers keep our communities safe, allow our businesses to thrive, and keep society moving forward. I am proud to Back the Blue. Our communities are too important.
The phrase that should have been should have been shouted across the Commonwealth is “Refund the Police!” And the state should have committed to sending funds which would have provided unified and standardized local police training, regardless of in which town or city an officer serves.
I know the officers of Tewksbury and Wilmington and I know the Chiefs. Both departments have been far ahead of the curve when it comes to the highest levels of training and which developing a community policing curriculum with nationally defining, cutting-edge policies.
For example; our departments use swarm tactics to safely and securely apprehend armed criminals and both towns have social workers who actively engage with those struggling from addiction, homeless, or mental health issues — before any criminal matters associated with these problems arise.
Early-on, Chiefs Begonis and Sheehan (formerly of Wilmington and Tewksbury respectively) realized that these standards increased community trust and made their officers’ jobs safer and easier. The community at-large supports our police and both departments are constantly working to be pro-active, valuing prevention over punishment. Our current Chiefs, Desmond and Columbus, have continued these high standards and practices and it shows everyday on the streets of our community.
Unfortunately, some less fortunate parts of Massachusetts simply do not have the budget that Tewksbury or Wilmington have to implement these newer training techniques. I believed that a true “reform” bill would have implemented the standards our department has. Instead we had an attack on qualified immunity and collective bargaining. I voted against this when it became before the House, and I will vote against it when it returns to be sent for final approval before heading to the Governor.
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