New Bill Could Create Harsher Penalties For Disarming An Officer

OMAHA (kptm) - The attorney general unveiled his 2013 legislative package today and one bill he announced would create harsher penalties for those disarming or attempting to disarm an officer.

They put their lives on the line everyday. And law enforcement officers know the risks their job entails. Sgt. Rob Jones says, "We're always very suspicious of other individuals obviously because of our safety."

While an officer is out on patrol they're always extremely careful. They say they can never be too prepared during a traffic stop. They never know what is going to happen and that's why they always guard their gun.

But every once in a while, they're surprised by someone who desperately wants their gun and will do anything to get it. "We're trained in law enforcement, if someone is to attack us to the point of trying to disarm us they're trying to take our lives there's no other reason why they would be trying to take our weapon from us and so we're trained to react to that as if it's a deadly force assault," Sgt. Jones says.

Right now in the state of Nebraska it's a misdemeanor to disarm an officer. The suspect is charged with either resisting an arrest or obstruction of an officer. Sheriff Terry Wagner says, "If an officer's disarmed and injured then there's significant penalties for that but just the fact of disarming an officer is a difficult crime to pigeon hole right now in the legislature so I really appreciate that we recognize that it's a serious offense to try to disarm an officer."

Senator Colby Coash's bill plans to change that. It would now make it a felony to disarm an officer, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to 25 thousand dollars. "If they do take an officer's weapon again they're intent must be to do harm to the officer so it's certainly critical to give us ya know get Nebraska with the law passed to have severe punishment for those who would attempt to do that again take them out of society and put them behind bars to protect the officers out there but also the citizens as well," Sgt. Jones says.

Governor Dave Heineman will unveil his legislative priorities during his state of the state address next week.