State Sen. Joseph Griffo (R-C-IP, Rome) says he was pleased when the Assembly this week approved a bill that would increase the penalties for killing a police dog.
Griffo co-sponsored the companion legislation in the Senate, which passed the bill in March.
While the bill was introduced and approved in the Senate in previous years (including unanimous support last year), this year marks the first time that the measure passed the Assembly.
The concern drew more attention this spring, after the shooting death of an FBI dog in Herkimer during a police building-to-building search.
Under current New York law, those who harm a police canine can only be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. This bill increases the penalties for killing or injuring all law enforcement and emergency services canines by making it a Class D felony.
“These dogs help protect the public and when you attack them, you’re a threat to law enforcement,” said Griffo. “After talking to the trainers and handlers of these animals, you know that these animals are specialized and highly-trained. Not every canine is capable of serving the personnel in law enforcement or emergency services.”
Under current law, a person is charged only when the animal is killed or injured while the animal is performing its duties. If approved by the governor, the new law would expand 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.
The Senate is expected to send the bill to the governor for his consideration.
Griffo represents the 47th Senate District, which extends from his home territory in Oneida County up through Lewis County, to include the St. Lawrence County towns of Clifton, Fine, Pitcairn, Russell, Pierrepont, Potsdam, Stockholm, Norfolk, Brasher and Massena.