YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Penalties for threatening police dogs and other law enforcement animals would be enhanced, under a law approved by the state Senate today. The bill now goes to the state Assembly.
(PHOTO ABOVE: Courtesy Kenneth Keenan)
“Law enforcement depends on animals [such as] dogs and horses for a variety of critical public safety functions,” said Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Somerset), one of the measure’s sponsors. “Local departments invest heavily in training police K-9s for their integral roles in search and rescue operations, narcotics investigations and explosive detection.
“Police departments treat these animals as a true member of the force and we need to do all we can to protect them from harm,” he added.
The measure — which is being called “Dano and Vader’s Law” — makes threatening the life of a law enforcement animal a fourth-degree, indictable offense. Conviction can bring a heavy fine, although likely not prison or jail time.
Bateman said he proposed the legislation after a 2008 incident involving Dano, a K-9 in the Somerset County Sherriff’s Office, and his handler, Lt. Tim Pino. During the arrest of a suspected drug dealer in 2008 the suspect’s boyfriend tried to distract police by threatening to kill Dano.
Vader is Atlantic City’s most productive police K-9 since coming into service that same year.
According to Bateman, the precocious pooch has helped catch 95 suspected criminals — either by sniffing them out or chasing them down.