From the Connecticut General Assembly: To protect a police animal or dog in volunteer canine search and rescue teams from intentional injury or killing, State Senator Tony Hwang (R-28) and State Representative Brenda Kupchick (R-132) have co-sponsored a proposal to enhance the criminal penalties for those who commit these types of heinous acts.
The legislation, HB-6715, An Act Increasing the Penalties for the Intentional Injury or Killing of Police Animals or Dogs in Volunteer Canine Search and Rescue Teams would increase the penalty for injuring or killing a police dog from Class D to Class C felony for injuring and from Class C to Class B felony for killing a police dog. The punishment for a Class C Felony is 1 to 10 years in Prison and up to $10,000. The punishment for a Class B Felony in Connecticut is 20 years in jail and a fine of $15,000.
Currently, the Federal Law, Enforcement Animal Protection Act, punishes those who assault, maim or kill a federal law enforcement animal with a minimum $1,000 fine or potentially 10 years imprisonment.
“Our first responder animals protect us, and we’ve got to do our part to protect them in the best way we can,” Sen. Hwang said. “It has been an honor to work with Rep. Kupchick, Rep. Fred Camillo, and state law enforcement on this important legislation, and we truly appreciate the public support this common sense proposal has received.”
Rep. Brenda Kupchick said, “We must remember that law enforcement and search and rescue dogs put their lives on the line every day for state residents, just like our law enforcement officers and rescue personnel do. These animals are engaged in serious and often dangerous operations from the apprehension of criminal suspects, detection of illegal drugs and bombs, or that can result in injuries or death.”
“This bill sends a strong message to anyone who commits attacks on our beloved police canines that they’ll face harsh criminal penalties. Let’s protect, man’s best friend and our canine law enforcement crime fighters,” said Rep. Kupchick.
Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara, “I would like to thank Senator Hwang and Representative Kupchick for this legislation. Our police K9’s are more than just a tool meant to help our officers. Police K9’s are integral members of our department. With their handlers they help to keep our communities safe, are sometimes placed in situations that risk their lives, they protect our officers, and are members of the community. They receive support and admiration from our seniors, our business community, as well as school children and their families. These animals are an extension of our officers and our community and deserve to be protected from harm.”
The legislation is supported by the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association. According to the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, the police animal essentially becomes an extension of the police officer and protects the officer from many dangerous tasks. Additionally, the police animal becomes part of the police family and personal family of its handler.
The bill received unanimous support in the Public Safety and Security committee now heads to the legislature’s powerful Judiciary committee for a vote of the full committee before heading to the House of Representatives.
Photo courtesy of the Connecticut General Assembly
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