BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Hundreds of people showed their support Thursday night at a benefit to honor fallen officer Craig Lehner
Officer Lehner died during a training exercise in the Niagara River more than a month ago.
The fundraiser held at Club Marcella benefits the Buffalo Police Department as the proceeds go towards purchasing another K9 for the force in Lehner’s honor.
“If there’s anything we can do to respect that person, the dignity of their life and legacy and also show the Buffalo Police Department we’re here for them, we have to do that,” said Michael Slyder, CFO of Club Marcella.
The average K9 will cost the department anywhere between $8,000 and $12,000.
The department currently has 4 active K9’s. Lehner’s dog, K9 Shield is the fifth K9 on the force. He’s expected to return to work in about a month with a new handler.
“Everybody’s kind of taking turns on the K9 team keeping Shield active and busy. I’m sure he’s anxious to get back to work, his drive and his excitement hasn’t seemed to change,” said Lt. Jeff Rinaldo, Buffalo Police Department.
Lehner’s sister told News 4 how Shield meant the world to him and helped him get by everyday.
“Any of us, we may have dogs, but we don’t truly understand that bond between the officer and his K9 and it’s amazing that somebody else will get that opportunity as well,” said Donna Wilson, Lehner’s sister.
Family and loved ones of Lehner say it is truly amazing the amount of support people have showed for officer Lehner and the police department over the last few months.
“It really is unbelievable, as an officer I think sometimes you get the opinion that society in general isn’t necessarily favorable towards law enforcement. It’s a shame it takes a tragedy to be reminded that most of society does appreciate us,” said Lt. Rinaldo.
To donate to the Buffalo Police Department for a new K9 checks can be made payable to:
Buffalo Police Benevolent Association
74 Franklin Street, Buffalo 14202