SB 57: Increasing Penalties for Killing Police Service Animals
This bill passed the Senate with a vote of 20-6 and the House with a 43-24 vote.
The goal of Senate Bill 57 is to further protect law enforcement service animals, including dogs and horses, that are trained and used in the line of duty. Proposed by Senator Jani Iwamoto, SB 57 would increase the penalty from a 3rd-degree felony to a 2nd-degree felony for killing a service animal.
Libertas Institute recognizes the value of a service animal, from both monetary and community safety standpoints. However, there is no clear evidence that indicates police animals would somehow be safer if the charge for killing them is made harsher—especially considering that police dogs are mainly killed in a reactive crime, not planned out executions. In reactive crimes, split decisions are made without considerations of consequences. As such, increasing the felony classification is unlikely to serve as any sort of deterrent.
Supporters of this bill have not provided any proof that the current sentencing law is inadequate. It is doing exactly what it is supposed to—punishing those who commit the crime. Locking someone up for a longer amount of time for killing a police dog or horse won’t keep society any safer.