Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville

In Missouri, breaking out the window of a police cruiser has a greater punishment than killing a law enforcement animal.

“To me, that’s totally unacceptable. These are law enforcement officers in their own right,” said State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer. “They keep their human partners safe in very dangerous situations and we need to make sure that we’re protecting these animals.”

Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, is proposing to strengthen the punishment. Under his bill, killing a Missouri law enforcement animal would be a felony. A person found guilty could be sentenced to seven years in prison.

“Certainly, one of the reasons that you pass any criminal law is for the deterrent effect that it has. If people understand that there’s jail time associated with it, they’re probably less likely to commit that type of crime. You know, but the other thing is, is that we have to make sure that the punishment is appropriate for the crime that’s being committed. And in this case, you’re killing a highly trained animal that is a commission to police officer,” said Luetkemeyer.

If a person seriously injures a police animal to the point of requiring vet care, the person could also be charged with a felony.

The bill’s name – Max’s Law – honors a St. Joseph police canine officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty in 2021 while he and his partner were serving a warrant.

The legislation covers dogs, horses, and any other animals serving a law enforcement agency.

Other provisions of the bill involve repealing a mandatory salary cap for Kansas City police officers and workers compensation for first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Senate could debate SB 119 at any time.

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