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Assembly Passes Madden/Norcross Bill Upgrading Penalties For Killing Police, Search And Rescue Dogs

A view of the Senate Chambers from the 2010-2011 Senate Reorganization.

Measure Responds to Intentional Killing of Gloucester Twp. Police Dog

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Fred Madden (D-Gloucester/Camden) and Donald Norcross (D-Camden/Gloucester) that would enhance the penalties for intentionally killing an on-duty police or search and rescue dog was passed today by the full Assembly.

The measure 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 purposefully thrown into the path of oncoming traffic, where he was struck and killed.

“Police dogs are not dogs that simply work alongside our police, they are part of the police force. They provide a tremendous service and perform a vital function in assisting and protecting our police officers. Schultz died in the line of duty doing exactly what he was trained to do – hunt down criminal suspects and help their human handlers arrest them so they can be brought to justice. Protecting these animals, who are in turn protecting us, is to be taken seriously,” said Madden.

Under the Madden/Norcross bill (S-2541/A-3732), 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.

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.

“Just as in Gloucester Township, police dogs are integral members of any force and vital in helping to keep our communities safe,” said Norcross. “They deserve the full protection of the law, especially when they are carrying out their duties. There is no doubt that Schultz was considered every bit a working member of the police by the community and considered a hero among its residents for his work to keep them safe.”

The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.

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