(St. Paul, Minn.) – Minnesota Senator Jeremy Miller (R-Winona) recently announced the introduction of a new bill that would strengthen state criminal penalties against individuals who are convicted of attempted first-degree murder of a police officer, judge, prosecutor, or correctional officer. The legislation (Senate File 82) increases the minimum sentence from 20 years with release under supervision after two-third of the sentence is served to life incarceration with a minimum of 30 years in prison before being eligible for release.
Last session, Senator Miller cosponsored a resolution marking February 22, 2020 as Officer Arik Matson Day in Minnesota.
“Police officers put themselves in harm’s way every day to keep our communities safe,” said Sen. Miller. “This commonsense bill shows the brave men and women of law enforcement that we appreciate the risks they take to keep the rest of us safe.”
Several legislators held a press conference that was attended Officer Arik Matson, a Waseca police officer who was nearly killed in the line of duty last January, as well as Officer Matson’s wife Megan, Waseca County Attorney Rachel Cornelius, Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association Executive Director Brian Peters, and Law Enforcement Labor Services Executive Director Jim Mortenson in support of the new legislation.
Waseca County Attorney Rachel Cornelius said, “After prosecuting the case for the attempted murder of Officers Arik Matson, Officer Andrew Harren and Sergeant Tim Schroeder, it was clear there was a glaring gap in our current statutes. We provided for higher penalties for murder of police officers, but there was no similar increase in penalties for attempted murder. This legislation fixes that and gives prosecutors in Minnesota another tool in the toolbox to pursue violent criminals.”
Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association Executive Director Brian Peters said, “The thousands of officers who put their lives on the line to protect their fellow citizens and enforce laws deserve to know those who would seek to harm them will face greater penalties. We ask a lot of our public safety community and their families and this piece of legislation is a sign of the commitment we hold to those who work every day to make our communities safer.”
Megan Matson, wife of Waseca Police Officer Arik Matson who was shot and critically wounded in the line of duty on January 6, 2020, said, “Every day gets a little easier for our family, and we appreciate the support of the community as we move along in our journey. This legislation will help make sure law enforcement members and their families will have the full support of the justice system with them when a person tries to keep that law enforcement officer from ever seeing their family again.”Law Enforcement Labor Services (LELS) Executive Director Jim Mortenson said, “Public safety officials face considerable danger in their day-to-day work. This proposal is a way for all of us to commit to supporting justice for those peace officers whose lives are threatened – just like Arik Matson and his bravery – as they continue to enter into dangerous situations on behalf of citizens of Minnesota.