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
STATEMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT STEVE XIARHOS REGARDING PASSAGE OF THE POLICE REFORM BILL
December 2, 2020
XIARHOS TO PROPOSE LEGISLATION TO CONFIRM THE LEGALITY OF FUNDRAISING EFFORTS FOR FIRST RESPONDERS SERIOUSLY INJURED IN THE LINE OF DUTY
November 27, 2020
WEST BARNSTABLE – State Representative-elect Steve Xiarhos (R – 5th Barnstable) has announced that he intends to file legislation to remove any uncertainty about the legality of fundraising efforts for first responders who are seriously injured in the line of duty.
The announcement comes in the wake of published reports questioning the legality of a GoFundMe page set up by police academy classmates of a state police trooper who was shot during a traffic stop in Hyannis last week.
Xiarhos, a former Deputy Chief of Police in the Town of Yarmouth, says he supports ethics laws that prevent public employees from abusing their position by using their official title or emblems for personal fundraising purposes during their employment. However, he says legitimate fundraising efforts to support first responders who are seriously injured in the line of duty represent a unique situation that deserves special consideration.
“Without question, I believe our state ethics laws are important and should be enforced stringently,” said Xiarhos. “Those who are employed by state or local government should be held to high standards and should not be able to use their official position for personal benefit or profit. I’m not seeking to change that ideal. However, when you consider the case of somebody who is a first responder seriously injured in the line of duty, I think we should recognize a limited and narrowly-tailored ability for people to raise money to support that first responder and their family long-term. I honestly don’t believe our state’s ethics laws were ever intended to prevent such activity from occurring.”
Xiarhos says he does not believe the GoFundMe account violates state ethics laws as it is currently designed, and also because it is not being managed directly by the trooper or his family. Regardless, he says he wants to make sure there is no uncertainty in the future about the legality of fundraising efforts like the one in question.
“As a former Deputy Police Chief and as a Gold Star Father, I have been deeply involved in fundraising efforts for those who have been killed in the line of duty in service to our nation and our community,” Xiarhos said. “I know how important these efforts are to the families those heroes left behind. I think similar efforts should be possible when a first responder suffers serious injuries in the line of duty. Oftentimes, they and their families will continue to endure hardship and expenses for many years to come. If members of the public want to be supportive and thank them for their service and sacrifice, I think that’s a beautiful thing. In this season of Thanksgiving, let us do all we can to be supportive of such efforts. I believe we can be resourceful enough to accomplish this goal responsibly, without undermining the purpose of our state’s ethics laws, which are also important.”
Xiarhos says the bill he intends to file is one of a number of legislative proposals on a variety of topics that he is preparing for the new legislative session. More information on other proposals will be made available in coming weeks.
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 was elected to serve as State Representative on November 3, and will take office on January 6, 2021.
XIARHOS WINS THE RACE FOR STATE REPRESENTATIVE
IN THE FIFTH BARNSTABLE DISTRICT
November 3, 2020
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