Push for harsher penalty for killing a police animal
Less than a week ago, a police animal was killed in a standoff with a gunman, and his sacrifice brought an end to the tragic murders in Herkimer County. Now, lawmakers want to make sure there is justice for Ape's death. Innae Park has more.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- “I call Ape 'The Hero of Herkimer,’” said state Senator James Seward.
Just last week, the FBI canine was killed by Kurt Myers, the man accused of shooting six people in Herkimer County, killing four of them. Ape is now considered a hero that gave his life to bring a standoff with a deadly shooter to an end.
Seward represents the two villages that were hit with the tragedy. He said, “Without that police dog, chances are a police officer could've been killed and further human life could've been lost.”
As a result, legislators are now working together to create a bill that would make it a Class D felony to kill a police animal. Currently, it is a misdemeanor. With the new classifications comes a sentence of up to seven years in prison.
Assemblyman Joseph Lentol explained, “These dogs are treated like brothers and sisters to the officers. They're also comrades in arms.”
No one knows that better than New York State Trooper Robert Schlegel, who has worked alongside his canine partner, Alex, for 10 years.
“He's basically, probably the best partner I've ever had,” said Schlegel. “Absolutely I will miss him.”
That’s because Alex is retiring, and now a sister is joining the force. Her name comes from fallen Trooper John McKenna, one of Schlegel's recruits.
“I thought it would be a great tribute to name my canine after a gentleman I spent so much time with,” he said.
McKenna's still in training, but come spring, the now 13-month-old German shepherd will be out wherever the duo is needed.
“Through training, we're able to forge a bond, and that's essential to every canine team,” said Schlegel.
But the partnership comes with risk. Thus, lawmakers say the passage of this bill needs to happen soon.
“We owe it to Ape to correct a problem in New York State law,” said Seward.
Currently, there are two proposed pieces of legislation that would give harsher penalties for killing police animals. The co-sponsors of each bill plan to consolidate them into one. They hope to have it become law no later than June.