New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a bill last Wednesday that increases the penalty for threatening a dog used by law enforcement. The bill is named Dano and Vader’s Law in honor of two police dogs that were assaulted and threatened while apprehending suspects.
Prior to the new law threatening a police dog was a disorderly persons offense, but under the new law it is considered a fourth-degree offense. Anyone convicted of threatening a police dog will serve a mandatory 90-day jail sentence and they can face up 18 months in prison and a fine of $10,000.
Vader, a retired police dog, served with the Atlantic City Police department from January 2008 to May 2012. While serving he helped apprehend 172 suspects. Vader was frequently physically assaulted when he apprehended suspects.
“It’s probably the most significant change in the law for the K9 profession,” said Vader’s partner Sgt. Frank Timek. “It will send a message to would-be criminals of hands off our dogs, which is cool.”
Dano is the other police dog honored with the bill’s name. Dano serves with the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office and while aiding in a 2008 arrest of a suspected drug dealer the suspect’s boyfriend threatened to kill Dano.
“We must ensure threats against these brave animals are taken seriously,” said Senator Skip Bateman, who co-sponsored the bill. “Cowardly criminals who threaten the life of a law enforcement animal will now receive the punishment they deserve.