I have been asked on many occasions if I support police officers and first responders. In response, I would like to share an experience that I had while serving as a State Representative.
On Jan. 28, 2010, Lt. Eric Shuhandler was killed while serving as a Gilbert police officer. He was 42. He was highly respected for his management and technology skills which made police investigations more efficient.
Lt. Shuhandler spent 16 years of his life keeping Gilbert safe and establishing positive relationships with our citizens. He also mentored and protected children as he oversaw the school resource program. His death sent shock waves through our community.
I was appalled that the punishment for assaulting and murdering peace officers and first responders was not more severe. Following Lt. Shuhandler’s death, I voted in favor of House Bill 2062 which resulted in harsher punishments for these crimes.
I felt that Lt. Shuhandler’s sacrifice should be remembered, so I sponsored an amendment stating that HB 2062 would carry his name. I was honored to read the Lt. Eric Shuhandler Act on the House floor with his wife and children present. I also sponsored and read a resolution that day, paying tribute to his life of service.
In addition to police officers, HB 2062 includes crimes against firefighters, fire investigators, fire inspectors, medical responders, teachers and other school employees. The penalties apply when these public servants are assaulted, injured or killed while serving in their respective capacities.
This legislation changed aggravated assault from a class six felony to a class five felony. It also changed aggravated assault resulting in physical injury, from a class five felony to a class four felony.
I want our first responders to know that they are an integral part of our community.
I cannot adequately express my gratitude for those who protect and serve us. In recent years, shootings and other crimes have become more commonplace on our nation’s school grounds, making it even more important that educators are also included in this legislation.
We are very fortunate to have brave and dedicated men and women serving us. I support them and will continue to do so. While many police departments across the country are dealing with corruption, we are not. It will not be tolerated.
Regular evaluations of our policies ensure that our officers serve with fairness and honesty. Many of them are your neighbors.
I will work for all Gilbert citizens as a member of the Town Council, regardless of occupation, race, gender or economic status. We are a diverse community, and our differences make us stronger and more empathetic as we strive to keep Gilbert a safe and thriving place to live.