Keeping our streets and homes safe

One of our government’s main roles is to ensure the safety and security of its citizens. Led by the brave men and women that serve as peace officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians (EMTs), we receive the services needed to keep our communities safe.
One way to improve on that safety is by getting to know our public safety leaders. From neighborhood watches and the DARE program to National Night Out and fire station tours, there are many ways to stay informed. Visit your city or county’s website and search for “Police Department,” “Sheriff’s Department” or “Fire Department” to find more information:
• Maplewood – http://www.ci.maplewood.mn.us/
• North Saint Paul – http://www.ci.north-saint-paul.mn.us/
• Oakdale – http://oakdale.govoffice2.com/.
• Ramsey County – http://www.co.ramsey.mn.us/home/index.htm
• Washington County – http://www.co.washington.mn.us/
Every year the legislature looks at ways to improve on public safety laws. The 2011 session had two big changes. The first bill made the sale of synthetic marijuana a gross misdemeanor and any possession of synthetic marijuana a misdemeanor. The product is dangerous and with its gaining popularity with teenagers, something needed to change.
Often referred to as “Spice” or “K2,” synthetic marijuana is packed and sold as herbal incense. It is made up of herbs and synthetic compounds that are similar to THC, the natural chemical found in marijuana. However, the synthetic drug produces much stronger and more dangerous side effects, including heart palpitations, respiratory issues, vomiting, agitation, panic attacks and delusions.
The second change in the law increased penalties for harming or killing police service dogs. The new law ensures that the lives of police service dogs are protected and any harm inflicted on them is appropriately punished.
The legislation increased the penalty for intentionally causing great or substantial bodily harm to a public safety dog from a gross misdemeanor to a felony. A person convicted of this crime could serve up to two years in prison and pay a fine up to $5,000.
I would like to thank our local police officers, firefighters, state patrol, EMTs and all their support staff for the work they do. Not everyone is cut out for the jobs they do and I am grateful for their efforts in keeping our communities safe. Thank you.
As always, please contact me with questions or suggestions regarding any issue. Please visit my Senate website at senate.mn/senatorwiger. I also encourage you to visit me at the Capitol, or let me know if you’d like me to stop by your home or apartment. Also, please tune in to my local cable TV show, “Your Capitol: What’s Up?,” which appears on public access channels 15 and 16.
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Senator Chuck Wiger
Chuck Wiger represents District 43, which includes portions of Ramsey and Washington counties in the northeastern Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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