Rep. Xiarhos Refiles “Nero’s Bill”
February 4, 2021
BOSTON – State Representative Steven Xiarhos (R- West Barnstable) has refiled legislation that would allow police canines who have been injured in the line of duty to be treated and transported by emergency medical services (EMS) providers.
The bill, HD.326 An Act Providing for the Care and Transportation of Police Dogs Injured in the Line of Duty, otherwise known as “Nero’s Bill”, was filed in response to the April 2018 shooting of Yarmouth Police Sergeant Sean Gannon and his canine companion officer, Nero. The legislation was originally filed by former Representative Will Crocker in the 2019-2020 legislative session but was never voted on.
Nero was gravely injured in the 2018 shooting, but due to existing state law, the canine was unable to be treated or transported by EMS providers. At the time of the shooting, Xiarhos served as the Deputy Chief with the Yarmouth Police Department.
“I will never forget the sight of wounded K9 Nero being carried out, bleeding and gasping for air in the arms of a police office,” said Representative Xiarhos. “I will do everything in my power to make this bill become law in honor of K9 Nero and all of the devoted and loving animals serving and protecting us for generations to come.”
This bill would seek to allow emergency personnel to treat and transport injured working police canines. It would also require a full cleaning of the ambulance following the transportation of the animal and require any emergency personnel who renders care to have completed training consistent with standards approved by the Office of Emergency Medical Services.
“This bill refiled by Representative Xiarhos will take away any hesitation for first responders to administer emergency care to operational K9s and transport them to a veterinary hospital without fear of the sanctions that currently exist,” said Chief Frank Frederickson of the Yarmouth Police Department. “I hope that the necessity for these services will be rare but we all know that this situation can happen in any community and at any time. We owe this to the K9s and their handlers, who both operate in dangerous
Twenty-nine other legislators have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill thus far.
The deadline for representatives and senators to sign on as a co-sponsor is Friday, February 26th, 2021.
Xiarhos Urges Federal Officials to Build New Cape Cod Canal Bridges – Without Tolls or Gas Tax Hikes
January 22, 2021
BOURNE — State Representative Steve Xiarhos (R-West Barnstable) issued a call today for federal transportation officials to make good on their commitment to rebuild the Bourne and Sagamore bridges – without increasing the gas tax or imposing tolls on drivers.
“I appreciate the commitment the federal government has shown to rebuild our aging bridges, but my job is to protect the interests of the people of the 5th Barnstable District, and that is exactly what I intend to do,” said Xiarhos. “On the surface, that means making sure bridge reconstruction is completed, serving the safety and transportation needs of our region, with due attention to local concerns. We also need federal funding, so Massachusetts taxpayers do not get stuck with a huge bill for a federal project. I believe the Memorandum of Understanding signed this past summer furthers those goals, and we need the federal government to follow through on its commitments. But, there’s also more to the story. Specifically, we need to make sure there is no increase in the gas tax, and that the bridges remain toll-free for drivers.”
On Friday, Xiarhos sent a letter to incoming Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, echoing a recent invitation by U.S. Senator Edward Markey for Buttigieg to visit Cape Cod and tour the Bourne and Sagamore bridges. “It would be my distinct honor and pleasure to help welcome you to Cape Cod and to discuss this project, in hopes of working collaboratively to see this project completed successfully,” Xiarhos wrote.
However, Xiarhos also expressed concern about comments Buttigieg made at his U.S. Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday. When asked about a potential increase in the federal gas tax by U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R – Fla.), Buttigieg reportedly replied, “I think all options need to be on the table,” adding that the federal gas tax has not been increased since 1993 and is not pegged to inflation. According to Xiarhos, “these comments are worrisome, especially to Massachusetts residents who have consistently rejected proposals to increase the gas tax. My job is to protect taxpayers.” Xiarhos also noted his opposition to the expansion of tolls on Massachusetts roadways, especially on newly-constructed Cape Cod Canal bridges. “Putting tolls on our bridges would not only be unfair, but also damaging to our regional economy, especially during the important summer tourist season. As much as I am in favor of reconstruction of our transportation infrastructure, and in particular the rebuilding of our Canal bridges forthwith, I am equally opposed to increasing the gas tax and putting up new tolls on our roadways.”
Statement of Steve Xiarhos upon the inauguration of President Biden
January 20, 2021
Today, for the 46th time in our nation’s history, America inaugurates a new President. The election is over. The people have spoken. America decided. Joseph Biden was chosen. And at noon today, he will become our nation’s new leader according to our Constitution.
Our nation’s president, traditionally regarded as the leader of the free world, is an important symbol of democracy and the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. From the earliest days of our founding, we have conceived of intrinsic rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And, through our shared experience, we have deepened our appreciation for the principle that each of us is created equally, with equal opportunity to thrive and succeed within a system governed justly by the rule of law.
I pray for President Biden and Vice President Harris to successfully unify our nation, end the Coronavirus pandemic, promote peace and prosperity for all Americans, and most of all, protect our freedoms and liberties. I similarly urge all Americans to stand united today, with respect for the office of presidency and the important freedoms it protects. My son fought and died on a battlefield overseas in service to our country, protecting the integrity of our freedoms. I similarly swore to protect and defend these ideals on a local level as a career police officer, enforcing respect for law and order on the streets of Cape Cod for four decades. It is important for the continuity of our republic that such respect transcend allegiance to any particular political party or ideology, and withstand the ebbs and flows of life’s many vicissitudes.
Personally, I will continue doing all I can to bring people together and promote a sense of unity and common purpose here on Cape Cod. At the same time, I recognize that the vitality of our democracy relies not only on a shared understanding of what it means to be an American, but also on the diversity of our individual experiences and beliefs. It is important for the respectful, peaceful, and principled expression of those beliefs to continue on, protected as part of our political discourse. The chorus that is our democracy is made better by the spirited resonance of many different voices.
May God continue to Bless the United States of America.
Steve Xiarhos Sworn In As State Representative
January 6, 2021
BOSTON – Steven G. Xiarhos of West Barnstable was officially sworn in today to serve as State Representative for the 5th Barnstable District.
Governor Charlie Baker administered the oath of office to Xiarhos and other newly-elected legislators during a ceremony at the State House in Boston. The ceremony marked the beginning of the 192nd Massachusetts General Court. According to the Constitution, sessions of the General Court begin on the first Wednesday in January each year, and members of the House of Representatives and Senate serve a two-year term of office.
“I am tremendously humbled and honored to take office as State Representative,” Xiarhos said in a statement shortly after the ceremony. “Mostly, I am eager to get down to business serving the people of the 5th Barnstable District. I plan to work very hard on their behalf to make Cape Cod a better place to live and work.”
Xiarhos said he has been busy preparing to file several bills over the next few weeks for consideration by the House this session. He also intends to file a series of amendments to the state budget, which traditionally is considered by the House in April. He intends to release more information about those plans over the coming days.
“The Legislature has a lot of important business before it, and I look forward to being part of the discussion,” Xiarhos said. Among his priorities are seeking ways to deal with the public health and economic effects of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, criminal justice reform, and ways to support municipal services including education.
About Steven Xiarhos
Steven Xiarhos is a resident of West Barnstable and was elected to serve as State Representative for the 5th Barnstable District at the General Election on November 3, 2020.
Steve spent forty years serving the people of Cape Cod as a member of the Yarmouth Police Department, retiring in late 2019 from the position of Deputy Chief of Police. Throughout his career, Steve attended numerous specialized training courses and is a graduate of the Babson College Command Training Course and the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar. He is the recipient of 22 various police department awards and decorations including Officer of the Year, Yarmouth Area Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year, Rotary Club of Yarmouth Vocational Service Award, Mothers Against Drunk Driving Officer of the Year, and the Barnstable County Human Rights Commission Rosenthal Award.
Steve also remains active in many charitable and civic causes. This includes, but is not limited to, the Nicholas G. Xiarhos Memorial Fund (which was created in memory of Steve’s son, Nick, who was a Marine killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2009). Currently, Steve serves on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Iraq and Afghanistan Fallen Heroes Memorial Fund and the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation; as well as a Volunteer for Wounded Warrior Project Cape Cod Soldier Ride.
The 5th Barnstable District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives consists of the entire town of Sandwich, plus precincts 11 and 12 in Barnstable, precincts 1, 2, and 7 in Bourne, and precinct 9 in Plymouth.
Xiarhos Urges Governor Baker to Veto the “Police Reform Bill”
December 9, 2020
Steve Xiarhos has sent the following letter to Governor Baker urging him to veto S.2963, the “Police Reform Bill”:
December 9, 2020
His Excellency Charles D. Baker
Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
The State House, Room 360
Boston, MA 02133
Dear Governor Baker:
I am writing to encourage you to veto Senate Bill 2963, the so-called Police Reform Bill.
I served as a Massachusetts police officer for four decades, retiring from the position of Deputy Chief of Police in the Town of Yarmouth in late 2019. My experience on the job leaves me with three inescapable conclusions. First, in my opinion, first responders as a group are heroes and deserve our respect and support. Second, I acknowledge that our state laws relating to criminal justice do need reform. In this sense, I do not steadfastly oppose efforts to work on some version of a police reform bill. However, third, I strongly believe Senate Bill 2963 as enacted is the wrong approach.
Following the tragic and unacceptable death of George Floyd earlier this year (together with other similar incidents), Massachusetts and many other states embarked on a mission to reexamine laws relating to policing. As a former police officer, I welcome this examination – not just now, but on an ongoing basis. Police officers are professionals and public servants. Therefore, they should always be held to the highest possible standards and expectations. And, to the extent that our current laws are inadequate to assure such quality, our laws can and should be changed.
However, I also believe the Legislature can go too far, even when it acts with good intent. Specifically, I am concerned when legislative proposals are tinged with the operative assumption that every first responder may pose potential risk to the general public. That is not my experience or judgment. I am also wary of legislative proposals which seek to impose mandates that second-guess the discretion of first responders to conduct themselves appropriately on the job and thereby undercut their ability to perform their mission. And, I am opposed to legislative proposals that fail to support our first responders and their rights when they need our support.
I believe Senate Bill 2963, as passed to be enacted, fails these tests despite containing certain provisions that have merit.
In my opinion, Massachusetts police officers need additional training and resources to know how to deal appropriately with the stressful and sometimes-violent situations they encounter as part of their job. Clearly, officers have a duty to conduct themselves appropriately, and to police themselves and their fellow officers as much as the citizens they serve. And, clearly, whenever an officer acts inappropriately, uses force without justification, or exhibits any form of racism or other discriminatory intent, that officer must be punished.
However, I also believe that qualified immunity protections are important for police officers. I have faith in our legal system to know the difference between a bad officer who is hiding behind the badge and a good officer who is being scrutinized unfairly. I worry that provisions of Senate Bill 2963 unfairly undercut these protections and also take away due process rights of first responders. While I do not oppose the creation of a statewide database of law enforcement officers, I am concerned about the way it might be used and that it might undercut the rights of first responders. I am additionally concerned about provisions such as a ban on facial recognition software. These provisions as drafted, however well intentioned, could have a negative impact on the ability of our police to keep people safe. And, while I do not defend the use of forceful, life-threatening tactics by police officers without strong justification – and particularly in any situation motivated by any discriminatory animus – I am very worried when the General Court tries to legislate the way police officers should do their job in the middle of extremely dynamic and stressful situations.
Governor Baker, I appreciate your support of first responders in our Commonwealth and your own proposals offered to reform our state’s policing laws. I believe Senate Bill 2963 was passed in haste at the end of the current legislative session. I believe more time and deliberation by the Legislature would enable us to craft a bill that does a better job of addressing important issues without so many unintended consequences. Therefore, I encourage you to veto Senate Bill 2963 and return it to the Legislature, such that the General Court may reconsider it at the beginning of the next legislative session in January. As an incoming State Representative, I pledge to do my best to assist with that process however I can and to support passage of a well-crafted bill as soon as possible.
Thank you for your consideration.
Steven G. Xiarhos
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