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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: January 31, 2014 08:32 PM
From: Representative Jesse White
To: All House members
Subject: "Rocco's Law" - Increased penalties for intentionally or recklessly killing a police animal in the line of duty

In the near future I plan to introduce legislation known as "Rocco's Law", which will increase the penalty for someone who causes the death of a police animal killed in the line of duty.

Rocco, an 8-year-old German shepherd, was the City of Pittsburgh police dog who died this week after he was stabbed while helping to apprehend a suspect two days earlier. The outpouring of emotion from the public has been staggering, and many people are asking why there is not a more severe penalty for killing a police animal.

Under current law, injuring or torturing a police animal is a felony of the third degree, but there is no aggravated sentence for killing a police animal. My law would put the penalty for killing a police animal on equal footing with killing a human law enforcement officer.

My legislation would make the following specific changes:

  • A person who intentionally or knowingly kills a police animal shall be charged with a felony of the first degree.
  • A person who, as a direct result of the doing of an unlawful or lawful act in a reckless or grossly negligent manner, causes the death of a police animal while in the performance of duty and the person knew or should have known the victim was a police animal, shall be charged with a felony of the second degree.

Police animals may not be humans, but they are undeniably considered by most to be fellow law enforcement officers. They receive extensive training and risk their lives to protect and serve our communities. The crime of intentionally or recklessly taking the life of a police animal should be commensurate with taking the life of any other law enforcement officer.

Please honor Rocco's memory and service to the community by co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as HB2027