State lawmakers filed a bill in the house this week that would make it a hate crime to assault a police officer. Dartmouth Police Chief Robert Szala supports the legislation.

Szala tells WBSM News he learned the hard way as an officer years ago that the penalty for hitting a cop is quite minor. "Somebody assaulted me and I charged them with assault and battery upon a police officer. And realizing that after I put it on the computer, wrote it down, and filed a court complaint (that it) was a misdemeanor, I always thought that it needed to be more severe. And I always felt that a felony charge was appropriate at that time," recalled Szala. "And I still feel that way today."

Szala says police officers are held to a higher standard in the community, and there's no reason why crimes against them shouldn't reflect that.