TRENTON – Legislation enhancing penalties for intentionally killing an on-duty police or search and rescue dog and named “Schultz’s Law” in honor of a Gloucester Township police dog killed by a crime suspect was today signed into law.
The law was drafted in response to the November 30, 2010 killing of Schultz, a 3 1/2 year-old German shepherd and member of Gloucester Township’s police force. After tracking down a robbery suspect and latching onto the man’s arm, Schultz was thrown into the path of oncoming traffic, where he was struck and killed.
It was sponsored in the Senate by Senators Fred Madden and Donald Norcross, and in the Assembly by Assemblymen Paul Moriarty, Ruben Ramos, and Charles Mainor.
“Police dogs do not simply work alongside our police, they are part of our police,” said Madden (D-Gloucester/Camden). “They provide a tremendous service and perform a vital function in assisting and protecting our communities. Protecting these animals, who are in turn protecting us, is to be taken seriously.”
“Dogs that assist law enforcement are valuable allies in the fight against crime,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). “Schultz was doing nothing more than his job – serving and protecting the public. This law will ensure all K-9 officers have strong protections against those who break society’s rules.”
“Just as Schultz was in Gloucester Township, police dogs are integral members of any force and vital in helping to keep our communities safe,” said Norcross (D-Camden/Gloucester). “They deserve the full protection of the law, especially when they are carrying out their duties.”
Under the new law, criminals found guilty of killing a police dog or a dog engaged in a search and rescue operation will 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 previously was a third-degree crime and carried penalties of between three to five years in prison and fines of up to $15,000.
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. He was memorialized with full police honors; the memorial service drew hundreds of residents and K-9 police units from as far away as Virginia.
“Dogs that assist law enforcement are loyal allies in the fight against crime,” said Ramos (D-Hudson). “This dog, like many others, was simply doing his job serving and protecting the public. They deserve legitimate protection against abuse, and those who abuse them need to face severe punishment.”
“Canines involved in law enforcement risk their life, much like police officers, to do the job they were trained to do,” said Mainor (D-Hudson). “Killing a police dog should be viewed in much the same way as directly assaulting a police officer.”
The law takes effect immediately.