A local lawmaker testified this week in support of his legislation to increase the penalty for criminals who disarm or attempt to disarm a police officer.

State Rep. Mike Mueller of Linden spoke before the House Judiciary Committee in support of a bipartisan plan that would double the current penalties. Mueller, who retired late last year as a deputy with the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office, says that any incident in which someone is trying to take a weapon from a police officer is by definition a serious one, with real-world serious consequences.

“A criminal who commits unarmed robbery is punished more severely than one who disarms a police officer under current law,” said Mueller, who retired late last year as a Livingston County Sheriff’s deputy. “That’s troubling and it needs to change.”

The legislation was inspired by the tragic death of Oak Park Police Officer Mason Samborski, a Howell native who was killed on Dec. 28, 2008, by a suspect who took his firearm and executed him after he became incapacitated during a struggle with the suspect. Mueller also shared that suspects have attempted to disarm him on two separate occasions throughout his career.

House Bills 4315-16 would increase the maximum sentence for attempting to disarm a police officer from a five-year felony to a 10-year felony and ups the penalty for disarming a police officer from a 10-year felony to a 20-year felony. Also testifying with Mueller was Democratic Rep. David LaGrand, a former prosecutor from Grand Rapids, who partnered with him in sponsoring the legislation.

The bills remain under consideration by the House Judiciary Committee. (JK)