The Yarmouth Police Department in Massachusetts said the criminal justice system is to blame for the loss of one its officers last week who was allegedly murdered by a career criminal with 125 prior charges.
"The Massachusetts Criminal Justice System has let us down and failed to protect our community and our Yarmouth Police Department," the department wrote in a statement on Facebook Saturday.
K-9 Officer Sean Gannon, 32, died Thursday after being shot while serving an arrest warrant for violation of probation Gannon's K-9 partner, Nero, also suffered serious gunshot wounds during the incident.
The suspect, Thomas Latanowich, 29, pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and mistreating a police dog on Friday.
"The name of person who attacked our beloved Police Officer Sean Gannon, and our innocent Police dog K-9 Nero, will never be uttered in our building or in any of our Media Releases or Facebook posts," the statement said. "We only refer to him as 125 ... which stands for the number of prior criminal charges he has on his Board of Probation criminal record in Massachusetts."
Yarmouth Police Chief Frank Frederickson gave an emotional speech during a candlelight vigil on Saturday for Gannon.
He talked about Gannon's impact on the department and community.
"It's hard to measure what we prevent, but I can guarantee you Sean saved somebody's life," the chief said.
Fredrickson also vowed to make changes that would protect officers lives.
"For the future, we are going to take Sean's death and push it forward with the help of these men behind me, and they'd better do it, to change things to protect police officers because I'm sick of it!" he said. "We have spent the last five years of getting crapped on. We're not doing it anymore!"
How is Nero doing?
On Friday, Nero, a 28-month-old Belgian Malinois, underwent emergency surgery for gunshot wounds to his head and neck.
Since the shooting, dozens of police dogs and former K-9 officers have been standing vigil over Nero while he recovers.
“Just like we would an officer, we have been maintaining a 24-hour vigil,” Yarmouth K-9 Officer Michael Kramer told Cape Cod Times.
There's a special bond between police dogs and their handlers.
“We lost one of our very good friends, and this is his partner, and he got shot, and we just need him to get better. We’re focusing on him to get him better, and it helps us to get better too,” Barnstable Officer Sean Roycroft told the news outlet.
Nero's recovery is progressing well.
"The men and women of the Yarmouth Police Department are proud to report that our beloved K9 NERO is back on his feet — FIGHTING back and standing STRONG!,” the police department wrote in a Facebook post.