State Sen. George Maziarz said Tuesday that, in light of the events last week in Herkimer County where an FBI dog was killed, the Senate is pleased to stand by its legislation that gives proper recognition to those who are often overlooked in the law: law enforcement animals. Bill S. 1079 increases the penalties for killing or injuring a police animal by making the offense a Class D felony. Under current law, killing or injuring a police animal is a Class A misdemeanor.
State and local law enforcement agencies increasingly rely on the use of animals to assist in crime solving and rescue and recovery operations. These animals and the services they provide are valuable to the citizens of New York and, significant time and resources are devoted to training them. In addition, under current law, a person is guilty of this crime when the animal is killed or injured while the animal is performing its duties.
This bill expands the crime to include killing or injuring the animal when the animal can be identified as a police animal by means of its presence in a police vehicle or an emergency vehicle, or by its enclosure in a marked area.
"Police animals are often overlooked and don't get the recognition that they deserve as an integral part of the law enforcement community that helps keep our communities safe day in and day out," said Maziarz, the sponsor of this legislation. "Recent events in Herkimer County have shown us how important the actions of police animals like Ape, the FBI dog killed that day, can be in saving lives and apprehending criminals. The federal government and many other states have enacted laws to enhance the protections afforded to police animals, and it is long past time that New York does the same."
Sen. James L. Seward said, "Police animals serve and protect just like their human counterparts, and in many cases they are the first line of defense in a hostile situation. That was the case in Herkimer where an armed killer held a small community in fear until FBI dog Ape led officers to the criminals location, bringing to an end a tense two days. Ape gave his life to protect others and that type of courage should be honored. I have co-sponsored legislation elevating penalties for killing or injuring a police animal for some time, and I hope the added attention of Ape's death will help bring final adoption of the measure."
"As a former mayor, who has seen firsthand the work of these highly trained, heroic animals, we should consider felony charges when they are harmed." said Sen. Joseph Griffo. "These dogs are part of the law enforcement who protect the public, and when you attack them, you are a threat to law enforcement."
This bill, S. 1079 was passed by the Senate last year, and is currently on third reading. Assemblyman Zebrowski announced Tuesday that he will co-sponsor the legislation in the Assembly.