New bi-partisan legislation has been introduced by a former Livingston County Sheriff’s deputy that would boost the penalties for disarming a police officer.

Republican State Representative Mike Mueller of Linden represents District 51, which includes Argentine and Fenton Townships, as well as the cities of Linden and Fenton. He took office in January, after retiring from a lengthy law enforcement career. House Bills 4315 and 4316 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. The legislation was said to be inspired by the tragic death of Oak Park Police Officer Mason Samborski, a Howell native who was killed on December 28th, 2008 by a suspect who took his firearm and executed him after he had become incapacitated during a struggle with the suspect. Mueller introduced the plan alongside Democratic Rep. David LaGrand, a former prosecutor from Grand Rapids.

Mueller said a criminal who commits an unarmed robbery would currently be punished more severely than an individual who attempts to disarm a police officer but the legislation would change that. Mueller noted that unarmed robbery is a 15-year felony, which he equates it to a young person stealing a case of beer or a package of hot dogs from a grocery store and pushing down a clerk. However, if someone disarms a police officer, it’s only a 10-year felony. Mueller said he is not for enhancing crimes on citizens but he wants to make sure that the punishment fits the crime and that holds when cops are faced with violent situations. Mueller said his thinking is if someone is going to take a gun from an officer, they are going to do harm with that weapon once they get it.

Mueller spent 19 years as a sheriff’s deputy in which suspects attempted to disarm him on two separate occasions during the course of his service. One happened just prior to his retirement and is still moving through the local court system. 36-year-old Albert Montez Smith IV of Flint is facing seven felony charges following a road rage incident November 28th in which Smith rolled his van in Tyrone Township. He allegedly attempted to flee the scene and rammed Mueller’s patrol vehicle before a physical confrontation ensued and Smith attempted to steal Mueller’s gun and the patrol vehicle. A taser was deployed but to little effect and Smith was eventually taken into custody when other police officers arrived. Both Mueller and Smith were hospitalized for injuries but have since recovered.

The legislation has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration. (JM)