In the past year, Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center) said there have been an increasing number of instances across the country, including ones with the Minnesota State Patrol and St. Paul Police Department, where someone has meddled with a public safety vehicle.
He said the misdeeds have included loosening lug nuts, cutting brake lines or putting in bad fluids which could take the vehicle out of service.
Cornish sponsors HF470 that would criminalize tampering with a public safety motor vehicle, which could include police or fire vehicles, ambulances and marked vehicles used by Department of Natural Resources’ conservation officers.
A person would be guilty of felonious third-degree criminal damage to property if “the defendant knew or should have known the vehicle was a public safety motor vehicle.” It would increase to a first-degree charge if the damage also “caused a substantial interruption or impairment of public safety service or a reasonable foreseeable risk of bodily harm.”
Current statute makes it a misdemeanor to tamper with a motor vehicle. Another statute makes it a felony if damage to property exceeds $1,000 or if the damage creates a “reasonably foreseeable risk of bodily harm.”
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