Rep. Yaroch, Clinton Township EMS chief speak on need for first responder protection

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State Rep. Jeff Yaroch, who served for 26 years as a firefighter and paramedic in Clinton Township, called on the House Law and Justice Committee to consider legislation to improve protection for police, fire and emergency service personnel during testimony today.

“I never felt, because we were the good guys, that we’d ever be targeted when responding to an emergency call,” said Yaroch, while sitting next to EMS Chief John Gallagher of the Clinton Township Fire Department. “I don’t know if I’d feel that way now.”

Gallagher supported Yaroch by recounting an emergency services call that he and Yaroch responded to that led to a dangerous situation for all responding units and area residents.

Yaroch is the primary sponsor for one of the three bills seeking to protect first responders with House Bill 4585, preventing intimidation or targeting of fire department and emergency medical service personnel. Partner legislation by state Reps. Klint Kesto and Brandt Iden would extend similar protection to police and corrections officials, while also setting guidelines to make violations a felony punishable by up to two years imprisonment.

The committee heard testimony from four other police and fire officials, including Detroit Police Department Chief James Craig, in support of the legislation.

“Unfortunately, there is a lot of frustration with government and first responders, because they have a patch on their arm that says “City of …” said Yaroch, of Richmond. “We’re sending a message that we are in support of these individuals who maintain our safety, stability and security. We need to stand behind them.”

HB 4590, sponsored by Kesto, and 4591, sponsored by Iden, also remain under consideration of the committee.