Sen. LaSata, local law enforcement testify in support of bill honoring fallen heroes

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Kim LaSata, Berrien County Undersheriff Chuck Heit and Presiding Judge of the Criminal Division of the Berrien County Trial Court Gary Bruce spoke in support of legislation on Tuesday that would allow the names of law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty, including court officers and corrections offers, to be added to the Michigan Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Monument.

The Southwest Michigan leaders discussed the legislation at a hearing of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

“This is an important reform that will ensure court officers who sacrifice their lives on the job will be properly honored by the state they served,” said LaSata, R-Bainbridge Township. “I thank Officer Heit and Judge Bruce for joining me in supporting the bill and appreciate my House colleagues for their consideration. I am hopeful the bill will advance quickly so our fallen heroes can get the recognition they deserve.”

Senate Bill 321, sponsored by LaSata, would align the Michigan monument standard with the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial standard. The bill would also allow reserve officers killed in the line of duty to be eligible for recognition on the memorial.

If signed into law, the names of Security Supervisor Joseph P. Zangaro and Court Officer Ronald Kienzle could be added to the state monument. In 2016, Zangaro and Kienzle were shot and killed by an inmate inside the Berrien County Courthouse. Zangaro had previously served as a Michigan State Police officer for 25 years and Kienzle was retired from the Benton Charter Township Police Department.

Zangaro’s and Kienzle’s names are already included on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.

SB 321, which was approved by the Senate last December, remains before the House Judiciary Committee, where LaSata expects it should be approved next week.