Bill toughens penalties for crimes against police K-9s
By Kitty Conley email@example.com February 19, 2013 12:08PM
Crown Point police Coropal, Jeff Eldridge, left, stands with his K9 partner, Buddy and officer Stanko Gligic, right, with partner Radar, pose for a photo with Keith Stevens and Shelli VanDenburgh.
Updated: February 19, 2013 12:18PM
The Indiana House of Representatives Courts & Criminal Code Committee approved a bill authored by Rep. Shelli VanDenburgh, D-Crown Point, that toughens penalties against anyone who kills a law enforcement animal.
The bill also maintains financial penalties for when and animal is so badly injured it can no longer function in a service capacity to law enforcement.
House Bill 1093, which was coauthored by Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond.
HB 1093 passed the house 97-0. State Senators Sue Landske, R-Cedar Lake, and Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte, are sponsoring the bill in the Indiana Senate.
If passed and signed, the law will become effective July 1, 2013.
VanDenburgh’s legislation requires courts to order anyone convicted to pay restitution for police animals that are killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. This will include replacement costs and veterinary bills as well.
“The cost to replace a police dog is around $12,000,” said Van Denburgh. “Local communities often have to find ways to raise that money on their own. This bill relieves local police departments of that burden.”
Crown Point Mayor Dave Uran’s chief of staff, Keith Stevens, testified in Indianapolis as to the invaluable work of his K-9 partner. According to Stevens, his previous dog of four years helped remove more than 106 pounds of marijuana off the streets, and found criminals, suicidal juveniles, and elderly citizens.
When a K-9 officer is retired from the police force, that animal is turned over to the police officer handler to become a family pet. That officer and family are then responsible for all care of their adopted pet.
“We can’t reimburse the emotional aspect of losing a police K-9,” said VanDenburgh. “Restitution of costs is the absolute least we can do.”