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North Carolina Bill Adds Bite to K-9 Protection Law

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  • North Carolina Bill Adds Bite to K-9 Protection Law

    This was on the front page of o.com. What does everybody think? I think it's a good start.


    ROCKY MOUNT -- When Danny the K-9 cop in Rocky Mount was shot and killed while chasing a suspect last summer, some said it was tantamount to murder.

    The dog's death spurred an outpouring of sympathy and outrage that has prompted legislation to increase the penalty for willfully killing or trying to kill a police animal. Law officers say the measure, approved recently by the Senate, will help protect their four-legged partners.

    "We want to send a strong message that you can't do this and get away with it," said Ricky Parks, Sergeant at Arms for the N.C. Fraternal Order of Police.

    The law would not equate killing an animal to killing a human, but it makes a violation a class H felony and allows a judge to consider additional aggravating factors in sentencing. The penalty would vary depending on the incident and a defendant's criminal record, police said, but it could mean a defendant would be more likely to receive jail time.

    Parks said criminals often know what penalties a crime carries and they will be wary of harming a police animal if the new law takes effect. He said initial research indicated three animals had been killed while on duty in recent years, but he did not have details.

    State Sen. A.B. Swindell IV, a Democrat from Nash County who sponsored the legislation in the Senate, said he did not hear any opposition. The measure passed 47-0 in the Senate on March 14 and was sent to the House where it is pending before the House Judiciary Committee.

    Nero, a former canine officer with the Lenoir County Sheriff's Department, lost a leg in 2001 after he was hit by a shotgun while pursuing four suspects. The dog, a Belgian Malinois, had to give up sniffing for illegal drugs and chasing crooks, but he served for a while as a three-legged goodwill ambassador in educational programs. After he left the department, he was accidentally hit by a car and died, a department spokesman said.

    Cpl. Chris Hicks, Danny's partner, said harsher penalties would be a tribute to Danny and all police animals. He said the animals and handlers don't always receive enough respect until there is a high-profile tragedy.

    Danny, a German shepherd on the force five years, accompanied Hicks and a detective July 21 on a traffic stop of a felon wanted on gun and cocaine possession charges. After they stopped the car, police said, a passenger jumped out and ran. Hicks and Danny were chasing the man when the suspect shot Danny.

    The man, Marcus Ray Henderson, 25, of Rocky Mount, was shot in the leg and also suffered dog bites, police said. Henderson is facing trial on charges of assault on a government official, assault on a law enforcement animal, discharging a firearm in the city, resisting and obstructing an officer and possession of a firearm.

    Hundreds of people and law enforcement dogs from across the state attended a memorial ceremony in August for Danny, who was cremated. "The penalty should be the same as for a human life," Sandy Smith, a Rocky Mount woman who attended the ceremony for Danny, said Friday in an interview. "Anything that can keep an animal from losing its life, I'm all for it."

    Hicks, a 12-year veteran, returned to Rocky Mount's canine corps in December after training with a new partner, a German shepherd named Chance. He keeps Danny's ashes in an urn in his home and in a small vial that hangs from his rearview mirror.

  • #2
    Great, another class H felony for which these dirt bags can get probation. I would say they should have at least gone with Class D, the same as robbery with a dangerous weapon.
    -Landric

    "The Engine could still smile...it seemed to scare them"-Felix

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