Jefferson City, MO – On Tuesday, January 16th, Cass County Sheriff Jeff Weber testified in front of the Missouri House of Representative Committee on Crime Prevention and Public Safety calling for improved protections and penalties for law enforcement animals under Missouri Law.
Representative Robert Cornejo, District 64, sponsored HB 1649 which increases the current crime of assault on a law enforcement animal from a C misdemeanor to a class A misdemeanor. Assaults resulting in death of such animal would increase from an E felony to a C felony.
The legislation was filed just one week after a Cass County Sheriff K9 was stabbed while trying to apprehend a subject. Current Missouri Law only allows a person who assaults a police animal to be charged with a class C misdemeanor.
“It was important to me to provide insight to our legislatures on this issue as it relates to this office and our community. My concern and outrage for the minimum penalty imposed on someone for intentionally stabbing a Law Enforcement K9, was echoed throughout our community and required my action. I am hopeful that this bill becomes law and in so doing, we recognize the valuable contribution these animals make to our efforts of keeping our community safe,” stated Sheriff Weber.
Representative Cornejo’s legislation was also supported by testimony from Paul Lewis on behalf of the United States Police Canine Association.
Co-Sponsors of the bill include District 33 Representative Donna Pfautsch, Chrissy Sommer Dist. 106, Nick Schroer Dist. 107, and Jim Neely Dist. 8.
HB 1649 is scheduled for a second committee hearing on January 23rd in Jefferson City.