GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP, NJ (WCBS 880) — It’s graduation day for K-9 units in Camden County.

One of the new graduates is Maximus, a German shepherd from the Gloucester Township Police Department.

Maximus also has a new partner, Cpl. Mark Pickard. One year ago, Pickard’s previous K-9 partner Schultz, was killed by a robbery suspect during a takedown.

WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reports: Loss of K-9 Schultz Was ‘Tough’ Says Deputy Chief

Schultz lived with Pickard and his family, and losing his friend, partner and a fellow member or the force was difficult.

But police deputy chief David Harkins says Wednesday’s graduation is a great step forward.

“So he can move on forward with his career and new dog. It’s exciting for us,” said Harkins “We’ve become so dependent and close to these canines and just treat them as one of our own. It was devastating.”

Harkins say Maximus is doing well with his training. He and Cpl. Pickard just placed third in a regional K-9 competition against 40-other dogs.

Last year, a bill was introduced called “Schultz’s Law” that would give a mandatory five-year prison term for anyone who kills a police dog.

Currently, killing a police dog carries a penalty of three to five years in prison.