"Hindsight is always 20-20, and in retrospect, my co-sponsoring of the bill H2196 that would provide the grounds for termination of a police officer who uses a abusive language in the line of duty was a mistake," he said in a written statement.
"One of the things that new State Representatives are cautioned about is to be careful about co-sponsoring proposed bills that you cannot support," the statement continued. "I spent 3 minutes reading this bill 10 months ago. This bill has not received any attention of mine since. I did not speak in favor of it during the committee hearing on Thursday Oct 3, and would not support it if it were brought out for a vote. This bill has been filed for the past 16 years, and has never made it out of committee. I do not expect it to come out of Committee or to come to a vote of the full House this term."
The legislation “An Act to prohibit inappropriate language use by sworn law officers” is sponsored by Benjamin Swan (D-Springfield) and is co-sponsored by Gloria L. Fox (D-Boston) and Heroux.
The legislation would prohibit language “of a racial, gender, ethnic, origin or religion nature” and “racial slurs” and “name-calling.”Heroux said that he has supported bills to support local police departments, including a recent bill to allocate extra money to local police forces.
"I have worked hard to make sure our police departments have the tools to do their job," he said in his Monday statement. "For example, I would like to point out that moments before this so-called language bill was heard in Committee last week, I testified on the bill H3501, a bill that I personally researched, authored and sponsored. H3501 is a 6 page anti-violence gun bill to allocate $3 million in extra funding for local police departments. I submitted the bill. I got co-sponsors, and I testified on this bill. This bill is likely to come out of Committee and help various police departments throughout the Commonwealth.
"This is not the first time I have admitted to making a mistake and it certainly will not be the last mistake I make. Everyone makes mistakes. The important thing is to realize when a mistake is made and admit it."
Below is a look at the bill:
"SECTION 1. Whereas, the misuse of language of a racial, gender, ethnic, origin or religion nature has frequently led to violent confrontations; and
"Whereas, citizens have a God-given inalienable right not to be insulted by public servants whose compensation is provided by tax;
"Therefore, regardless to any act to the contrary, this act shall make it unlawful and a violation of oath-of-office for any sworn law officers, i.e., police officers, state police, correctional officers, court officers, environment police, sheriff deputies, or any other sworn law officer to use or engage in the use thereof, during, or in the line of or course of duty language which cast a negative reflection toward an individual’s race, color, ethnic origin, religion, economic status nor any other category of negative stereotyping.
"SECTION 2. No racial slurs, name-callings, nor profanity used directed toward another individual shall be used in the course of, during or in the line of duty, and any such use of the same shall constitute a breach of the officer’s sworn oath and shall constitute grounds for dismissal from further duties as a law officer."
Editor's Note: This article has been updated to include the full bill and to refer to the bill as "Police Language Legislation." Previously, it was referred to in this article as "Police Profanity Legislation."