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Minnesota Legislature

New Law: Protecting law enforcement assistants

Published (7/15/2011)
By Mike Cook
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New legal protections will be afforded reserve law enforcement officers, horses operated by reserve officers, utility workers and postal carriers.

Sponsored by Rep. Ron Shimanski (R-Silver Lake) and Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson), a new law adds to the statutory definition of law enforcement reserve officers and will make it a gross misdemeanor to assault such a person. Additionally, horse-mounted reserve officers or trail horses will be given the same protection afforded to mounted peace officers and their horses, “while the reserve officer is operating at the direction of, under the control of, or on behalf of a peace officer or a law enforcement agency.”

The impetus came from an incident last summer when a driver in McLeod County failed to follow the directive given by a volunteer uniformed member of the sheriff department’s mounted posse to a proper parking location. The driver drove in such a way that one mounted posse member had to take evasive action so as not to be hit, but the vehicle contacted the horse of another member.

The law, effective Aug. 1, 2011, also expands the gross misdemeanor fourth-degree assault crime to include attacks against utility employees and contractors, as well as postal carriers while involved in their professional duties. This provision was initially HF1103, sponsored by Rep. Joe Mullery (DFL-Mpls).

Supporters said it is a matter of fairness because a person who assaults a city water meter reader can be charged with a gross misdemeanor, but if a gas company technician or a postal carrier is assaulted in the course of his or her duties it is only a misdemeanor.

HF506/ SF301*/CH85

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