TRENTON – Following last week’s killing of an on-duty Gloucester Township police dog by robbery suspect, Senator Fred Madden and Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (both D-Camden/Gloucester) yesterday introduced new legislation to punish such acts with a mandatory five-year jail term.
Schultz, a 3 1/2 year-old German shepherd and member of Gloucester’s police force was part of a 100-officer manhunt for a robbery suspect last Tuesday night. After tracking down the suspect, Schultz latched onto the man’s arm. According to police, the suspect then purposely flung the dog into oncoming traffic on Route 42 in an attempt to escape his grip, where Schultz was hit by a passing car and died shortly after.
“Schultz gave his life doing exactly what he was trained to do – hunt down criminals and help his human handlers arrest them so they could be brought to justice,” said Madden. “Schultz died a hero. Targeting and killing a police dog should be viewed no less harshly than directly assaulting a police officer.”
“Dogs that assist law enforcement are valuable allies in the fight against crime,” said Moriarty. “This dog was doing nothing more than his job serving and protecting the public. They deserve legitimate protection against abuse, and those who abuse them need to face severe punishment.”
Under the Madden/Moriarty bill (S-2541/A-3602) – named “Schultz’s Law” in honor of the canine officer – criminals found guilty of killing a police dog or a dog engaged in a search and rescue operation would receive a mandatory minimum five-year prison term, with no eligibility for parole, and a $15,000 fine.
Killing a police or search and rescue dog currently is a third-degree crime and carries penalties of between three to five years in prison and fines of up to $15,000.
The lawmakers noted that Schultz was well-known throughout Gloucester Township, where he was a fixture at police presentations to schools and local organizations. He lived with his handler, Cpl. Mark Pickard, and his family.
“Schultz was more than a dog to his community,” said Moriarty. “He was a friend, protector and an asset to all law-abiding citizens. This law will ensure he and his fellow K-9 officers have strong protections against those who shirk society’s rules.”
“Gloucester Township knew Schultz for being fearless in the line of duty and friendly when teaching kids,” said Madden. “His loss leaves a gaping hole in the community. Hopefully, passage of this law would be a lasting memorial to his service.”
The bill has been referred to the both the Senate and Assembly Law and Public Safety committees.