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Bill would add protections for paramedics, first responders

FARMINGTON - A Farmington lawmaker wants to increase the penalties for anyone who interferes with first responders rendering medical aid. State Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, said Tuesday the Public Safety Personnel Protection Act will be the f...

FARMINGTON - A Farmington lawmaker wants to increase the penalties for anyone who interferes with first responders rendering medical aid.

State Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, said Tuesday the Public Safety Personnel Protection Act will be the first bill he submits for the legislative session that begins March 8. His proposal would make it a felony to interfere with emergency personnel even if that interference doesn’t reach the level of an assault.

Under current law, someone who interferes with or obstructs an ambulance crew can be charged with a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or felony depending on whether they use force or cause bodily harm.

Garofalo said the proposal is a response to high-profile cases nationwide. One such case was that of Jamar Clark, who was fatally shot Nov. 15 in North Minneapolis by police responding to an assault report. Officials say Clark was interfering with paramedics helping the person he was suspected of assaulting and was shot during a struggle with police.

“Emergency responders should not have to fear for their safety when responding to a medical emergency,” Garofalo said. “Under this proposal, there will be zero tolerance for jeopardizing public safety. Zero.”

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