SAINT PAUL – State Representative Matt Grossell, R-Clearbrook, introduced House File 1481 a bill that will increase the penalties for physically assaulting firefighters and medical personnel to be equal to that of physically assaulting peace officers.
“As a retired police officer, I know firsthand that firefighters and medical personnel put themselves in vulnerable and dangerous positions in service to the public just as often as police officers,” said Rep. Matt Grossell, R-Clearbrook. "They deserve the same protection and making penalties for attacking them equal to attacking police officers is the right thing to do.”
Under this bill, physically assaulting a firefighter or medical personnel will be a gross misdemeanor. Any physical assault against a firefighter or medical personnel that also inflicts bodily harm or intentionally throws or transfers bodily fluids or feces will be a felony punishable by up to three years in prison and a $6,000 fine.
While portions of this section had previously applied only to emergency medical personnel, this bill makes these enhanced penalties apply to non-emergency medical personnel as well.
“Healthcare workers are assaulted every day. They are hit, punched, kicked, pinched and verbally assaulted so often, some just accept it as ‘part of the job.’ Nurses of the Minnesota Nurses Association feel strongly that violence is not part of the job,” said Mary Turner, RN, President of the Minnesota Nurses Association. “We hope this effort by Rep. Matt Grossell will create a safe environment for patients to heal and effectively address the rare instances when an aggressive person should be charged with assault."
Turner continued, "We trust Rep. Grossell knows what it’s like as a police officer to bring a patient to a hospital in handcuffs and leave them for nurses and others to treat, and we thank him for standing up to take on this issue.”
The bill has two dozen co-sponsors in the House and would be effective August 1, 2017 if enacted. It has been referred to the Public Safety and Security Policy and Finance committee and is scheduled for a hearing on Thursday March 2nd.