Camden offers final salute to beloved police K-9 Officer Zero

 Camden County Police K-9 Officer Zero with his partner, Lt. Zsakhiem James. (Photo courtesy of Camden County Police)

Camden County Police K-9 Officer Zero with his partner, Lt. Zsakhiem James. (Photo courtesy of Camden County Police)

After having chased criminal suspects for the Camden police department for eight years, K-9 Officer Zero has passed away. He was 12 years old.

The Czechoslovakian Shepherd joined the city force in 2007 as its first police dog in years and went on to apprehend more suspects than any other canine officer in New Jersey history.

In a memorable 2010 case, Zero tracked a stabbing suspect who was hiding behind insulation in a ceiling crawl space, according to Camden County.

But his partner, Lt. Zsakhiem James, also remembers Zero’s softer side, which made the dog a beloved figure among residents.

“Unlike any other officer in uniform, he actually drew people to him. We would go down the street,  and people and children would scream his name,” said James. “He allowed us to cross that divide in an effortless way and in a meaningful way.”

Camden’s loss was marked by local officials, who called Zero an “ambassador” to the community.

“Zero and Lt. James helped build bonds with Camden’s residents and children by doing countless demonstrations together at schools, parks and community events,” said Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli. “Everywhere he went in the city, kids recognized Zero and came over to pet him, and his loss will have a great impact on them.”

But Zero never failed to remind his partner that, in spite of his professionalism as a police dog, he was still a dog. One day James momentarily left his desk to give someone directions and returned to find the scraps of his lunch.

“Zero was sitting in the back just licking his chops after eating my 20-piece McDonald’s Chicken McNugget meal,” said James.

“From then on, any time he caught a bad guy, he got a 20-piece nugget meal.”

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