The measure was introduced in the wake of the killing of Schultz, a 3 1/2 year-old German shepherd and member of Gloucester Township’s police force, this past Nov 30. Schultz was part of a 100-officer manhunt for a robbery suspect and was purposefully thrown into the path of an oncoming car on Route 42 after tracking down the suspect and latching onto the man’s arm. He was memorialized with full police honors.
“Police dogs are not dogs that simply work alongside our police, they are part of the police force,” said Madden (D-Gloucester/Camden). “Targeting and killing a police dog should be viewed no less harshly than directly assaulting a police officer. Schultz died in the line of duty doing exactly what he and every police dog has been trained to do – hunt down criminal suspects and help their human handlers arrest them so they can be brought to justice.”
Under the Madden/Norcross bill (S-2541), 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. His 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 (D-Camden/Gloucester). “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."