Tallahassee, FL – A Republican state senator proposed legislation to triple the maximum prison sentence to 15 years for killing a police K9.
Florida State Senator Aaron Bean (R-Jacksonville) filed the bill Tuesday, less than two months after K9 Fang of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was shot and killed in the line of duty, according to WJXT.
K9 Fang was murdered on Sept. 30 by a 17-year-old armed carjacking suspect.
The teenage boy fatally shot K9 Fang who was chasing him, according to the Miami Herald.
The suspect was eventually captured by another Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office K9.
If passed, Bean’s bill would make it a second-degree felony to harm a police, fire, or search and rescue animal in Florida.
"It's the Fang Memorial Bill, which will hold people accountable for murdering a police dog," Bean told WJXT.
Currently, killing a first responder dog in Florida is a third-degree felony, with a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison, according to WJXT.
“Meeting with JSO and other officers, how Fang was a part of the family, and I think everybody was shocked to find out it’s only a third-degree felony to murder a police dog or a police horse, and so we’re going to change that,” Bean announced.
“A second-degree felony is where we want it to be to give our prosecutors ample resources to hold people accountable,” he said.
Bean met with Debbie Johnson, a police K9 advocate and the founder of the nonprofit K9s United, before introducing the legislation.
Johnson started an online petition to increase the prison time for criminals convicted of killing a police K9.
Thus far, the petition has more than 23,000 signatures, according to WJXT.
"There's no doubt in my mind, that [Fang] saved his handler that night," Johnson said, according to WJXT. "If we can strengthen the laws, that street-smart criminal might stop and think that they might serve more time if they kill a K9."
Bean said he believed he has the support to get the bill passed.