‘Mitchell’s Law’ Again Heads To State Assembly

The New York State Senate has again passed legislation making it a felony to injure a K-9 officer in the line of duty. The same bill passed in the senate last year but stalled in the State Assembly.

The bill, known as Mitchell’s Law, is named for the Jamestown Police Department’s K-9 Officer Mitchell, who was seriously injured apprehending a murder suspect in late November 2016. A Germanshepherd who began his tenure with the Jamestown Police Department in 2011, Mitchell was grievously injured during a confrontation with suspected murderer Keith Robbins following a six-hour standoff.

During the apprehension of Robbins, K-9 Officer Mitchell was stabbed in the throat and under his jaw, causing the knife to penetrate his tongue, resulting in emergency surgery for his injuries.

Under current law, suspects can only be charged with a Class E felony for intentionally killing a police work dog or police work horse while such animal is performing its duties and under the supervision of a police officer. Because the wounds suffered by K-9 Officer Mitchell did not result in his death, Robbins could only be charged with a misdemeanor. In response to the incident, Senator Young introduced legislation that would make it a felony to injure a K-9 officer in the line of duty.

“K-9 Officer Mitchell’s story is a reminder of the critical role that all K-9 officers occupy within our law enforcement community,” Young said in a press release. “They are an integral part of law enforcement’s mission to serve and protect and their lives and safety are often at risk, as Mitchell’s was on the day he helped facilitate the capture of convicted murderer Keith Robbins. Stabbed by the perpetrator, Mitchell’s injuries were life-threatening and required emergency surgery. While, thankfully, he recovered from his injuries, his case highlighted the need for tougher penalties for those who injure these valuable K-9 officers.”

Young said Mitchell will be retiring from the JPD in early 2019.

“We are pleased to hear that Mitchell’s Law has been passed in the New York State Senate. I hope that the Assembly will recognize the importance of working animals in law enforcement and support this much needed change in the current legislation. I would like to thank Senator Young for her support and efforts in moving Mitchell’s Law forward,” said Jamestown Police Chief Harry Snellings.