Tougher Sentences for Those Who Would Kill K-9 Officers

CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF-TV) – A Georgia legislator thinks that people who kill a working police dog should face second degree murder charges.
On the surface, that proposal may raise a few eyebrows, but State Senator Jeff Mullis of Walker county says such a law would do more than just protect the K-9’s.

Funeral services were held last June for a Walker county police officer killed in the line of duty.
But this was a beloved 4-footed sheriff’s deputy named Tanja.
She was shot to death by 58 year old Steven Lee Waldemer as police served a warrant on his Lookout Mountain home.

SHERIFF STEVE WILSON, WALKER COUNTY "I guess one of the most controversial things is that it makes a canine, or a police animal equivalent in the line of duty to that of a peace office in Georgia as to the punishment that can be given out."

Tanja’s handler, Deputy Donnie Brown was wounded in that incident. He and Sheriff Wilson approached Senator Mullis with the plan.
They say the Dutch Sheppard took the shotgun blast that was intended for her handler.

SHERIFF STEVE WILSON "She gave her life for him and for all the other people that wear the badge…and we just feel like the law..the code section needs a little more strength to it."

Senator Mullis filed his bill last week in the Georgia legislature. It changes the penalty for killing a police dog from 1-5 years and a fine, to 10-30 years and a fine.
Mullis is in Atlanta and not available to talk about the bill but its getting universal support from state law enforcement agencies.

SHERIFF RAY CROSS, DADE COUNTY "We love these dogs and we think they should be protected just as a police officer should be."

SHERIFF STEVE WILSON "Some people may say, well you know..an animal is not a human..and we certainly realize that."

Some legal experts wonder if that part of the law can stand up to challenges.

SHERIFF STEVE WILSON "We’re looking..willing to meet with those people who may be in opposition ..and discuss it and have a dialogue."

Sheriff Wilson points-out that drug dealers and other criminals sometimes deliberately try to kill K-9 officers.

Walker county will soon receive another police dog, who will also get a kevlar vest, within the next few weeks.

Categories: Crime, Government & Politics, Local News, Walker County

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