Zeus, a German shepherd and Belgian Malinois mix from the Czech Republic, was killed on July 31 after vehicles driven by Officers Robert Knoth and Joseph Judge collided while responding to a residential burglary alarm.
Zeus, who joined the police force in 2003, was 7 years old at the time of his death. Knoth and Judge have since been released from the hospital and are recovering from their injuries. “He was basically a 85-pound lapdog when he was with me,” Knoth, Zeus's handler, said. “He was the best partner you could ask for. He was always happy to come to work. He had no fear. He was always the first one to walk through the door.” Police dog representatives from Dutchess, Ulster and Orange counties along with representatives from the Albany and New York City area attended today's service. New Paltz town Supervisor Toni Hokanson and members of the town police commission were present. New Paltz police Chief Joseph Snyder said Zeus was the first New Paltz police dog killed on duty. To date, none of the town's police officers have been killed while on duty.
“I'm just grateful and thankful that it wasn't one of our officers,” Snyder said. Snyder said Zeus was all business when he showed up for work and was considered an integral part of the New Paltz Police Department. Zeus contributions are highlighted in some of the high-profile cases he helped to solve during his career.
In 2007, Zeus helped to track down Anthony Jacobs after he raped an elderly female who was sleeping in her home in New Paltz. Zeus also played a role in a drug-related $50,000 seizure earlier this year and 150-pound marijuana bust in 2006. Snyder said Judge is about four weeks away from returning to the police department, while Knoth's injuries will take more time to recover from. He said state police are close to finishing their investigation into the crash. Snyder said the department will look into finding a replacement for Zeus in the near future. “Right now, were just grieving over the department's loss,” Snyder said. “But we definitely want to replace Zeus. So many people in the community have stepped forward and offered to help. The biggest thing will be coming up with another (police dog) vehicle.”
Zeus, from the Czech Republic, was donated to the NPPD in 2003. Together he and his handler, Officer Robert Knoth, attended 16 weeks of patrol school and six weeks of narcotics school at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Since then, Zeus and Officer Knoth had been full time partners beginning their active patrol in 2004. Zeus was a member of the family, Knoth said. “They’re the best partners you could ever have; he was a family member,” Knoth said of his fallen comrade. He chose to use the saying “Ever loyal, ever alert” to describe his former partner and his contribution as a friend and officer.
submitted by Jim Cortina, Dir. CPWDA