PUBLIC SAFETY

Being a police officer I know these issues firsthand.  I am the officer consoling a mother in her kitchen when the paramedics are working on her son who overdosed in the basement.  These issues are real for me and nobody in the Senate never-mind in this race knows them as well as I do.”

My number one priority will be public safety.  Without a safe community no other initiative can truly take root.  Economic development is slow to grasp hold in a place where people don’t feel safe working, patronizing or living.  Job creation then takes a backseat as employers invest in opening businesses elsewhere.  Middle and upper class residents decide to leave for safer areas with more successful schools and the cycle continues.  We are losing population in this region because there are not enough good paying jobs.  Springfield is the center of our universe in this area and a vibrant, safe, dynamic Springfield with job opportunities and quality schools is needed for the entire area to really succeed.  Many folks are currently working on a Springfield renaissance and I am eager to help as State Senator.

STREAMLINE THE PROCESS TO PROVIDE INTENSIVE ADDICTION CARE

We are presently in the middle of a opioid and heroin epidemic and one of the solves we hear over and over again is that we need more beds and more treatment for those who have shown the courage to ask for it.  A current issue I have discovered in speaking with some experts in the recovery field is that there are organizations that are willing to step up and provide the care that is needed but in able to be licensed by the State the provider must fill out an over 100 page document that is extremely onerous.  Many of these providers are addiction counselors themselves and not health care policy or non-profit experts.  We need a streamlined process from the licensing agencies to work hand and hand to make sure these providers are first and foremost qualified to do the work but also make it much easier a process for them to start providing the services that are so desperately needed.  I will work in the State Senate and with the State agencies to get this done.

FAIR FUNDING FOR OUR DISTRICT ATTORNEY TO KEEP CRIMINALS OFF OUR STREETS

I will make funding for our Hampden County District Attorney’s Office my number one priority in next years State budget.  DA Gulluni did the remarkable feat in getting 10 other DA’s from across the state not to ask for money for their own office and instead supported money for Hampden County because it is that dire.  The extra money passed in the House but sadly it failed in the Senate and then did not make it into the final budget.  This is a huge problem.  These funds are desperately needed for important programs that could have an immediate impact on public safety on our streets.  Assistant DA’s are dealing with enormous caseloads because the Springfield District Court is the busiest court in the Commonwealth.  Unfortunately, many times prosecutors are offering a plea deal for a lesser charge because of their workload and that is not in the best interest of public safety.

GATEWAY CITIES PUBLIC SAFETY FUND

I would support Rep. José Tosado’s Gateway Cities Public Safety Fund legislation that will provide grants to Gateway Cities like Springfield to work hand and hand with economic development projects to help them succeed.  This was an idea I had two years ago during the campaign and i am thrilled Rep. Tosado has took the ball and run with it.  I would fully support and prioritize this legislation as your State Senator.

Gateway cities like Lowell, Lawrence, New Bedford, Holyoke and in the district I am running in, Chicopee and Springfield also have some real public safety concerns that need to be addressed.   Having a safer Gateway City would only help to spur development and make the decision of a potential business to move and grow there easier.  This fund will be available for those cities to apply for state grants to work hand in hand with the Gateway Cities for monies for public safety reasons.  Whether it is extra patrols in a certain part of town that is ripe for development or money for community non-profits to work with at-risk populations in certain neighborhoods where we are already investing in new housing stock it is a smart investment.  You can build the Taj Mahal but if the area around it is not safe then it will struggle to succeed.

Specifically in Springfield, they could use the money for more officers in targeted areas like the South End where a potential MGM Springfield will be.  Having a unit work hand and hand with the casino and the State Police stationed at the casino per legislation to mitigate crime that may come along with the project like drugs, prostitution or robbery only makes sense but will cost money.

FULLY FUND & EXPAND OUR WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM

The Commonwealth has a Witness Protection program that should be beefed up for District Attorneys to tap into whenever they need it.  Many times witnesses are simply scared for their life.  This program should extend to “street crimes” and not just be used for organized crimes.  If providing the proper protection makes the difference between getting a criminal off our streets and behind bars where they belong we need to be able to provide it.  People must feel comfortable that their lives will not be in jeopardy if the cooperate as witnesses to a crime.  Parents must fell comfortable in letting their children testify or cooperate. Also when others see that witnesses can and will be properly protected they may be more apt to cooperate as well.  This also will help build trust between law enforcement and the community.  As a State Senator I will make sure that this program is fully funded and that the new DA knows that they can use it whenever they deem fit.

WORK WITH NEIGHBORING STATES ON “GUNS FOR DRUGS” ISSUE

Governor of Vermont Peter Shumlin used his entire State of the State speech earlier this year to address in what he called “a full-blown heroin crisis” gripping his state.  There is evidence that I-91 serves as a pipeline of drugs and guns from NYC all the way to Vermont and New Hampshire.  Springfield is obviously a stop on the way.  Because of more lax gun laws in VT and NH guns are more easy to obtain and because of the access to NYC and 91 drugs are more easy to obtain in Springfield.  So what happens is that guns are traded for drugs.  We must work with our neighboring Legislatures to discuss laws that effect each other and how best to collaborate to stem the proliferation of drugs into their states and the proliferation of illegal firearms into ours.  I would lead that effort in the State Senate.

FULLY ENFORCE THE MANDATORY MINIMUM FOR POSSESSION OF AN ILLEGAL FIREARM

Work hand and hand with District Attorney Gulluni to ensure that any person caught in possession of an illegal firearm is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  All too often the charge of possession of an illegal firearm is dropped in a plea deal.  This should only happen in rare circumstances.  Criminals need to know that if they are caught with an illegal gun that they are going to go to prison.

MORE FUNDING FOR AT-RISK YOUNG ADULTS (18-35 YRS OLD)

When you look at which people are most likely to be the victim or a perpetrator of a crime it is a young adult who is 18-35 years old.  These people are stuck in the middle.  No longer a ward of the Commonwealth and under some direction to be educated they are out there left to their own devices to survive.  Parents no longer have legal guardianship and in many cases are in no shape to properly provide guidance either because of addiction issues or poor life skills overall.  We need more funding for programs like AWAKE and ROCA to work with this population.  In addition we need leadership to help guide collaboration between any organizations working with these young adults be they non-profits, public sector or private sector.  I would assist in that leadership.