HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Tuesday marks seven years since Scranton Police Officer John Wilding was killed in the line of duty. Now a bill sits on the governor’s desk honoring the patrolman.
Senate Bill 814 also known as the Officer John Wilding Law received bipartisan support passing the state senate with a 35 to 15 vote. Now many are hoping the governor will sign it into law on Tuesday, the anniversary of Wilding’s death.
In 2015, Scranton Police Patrolman John Wilding responded to an armed robbery. During a foot pursuit with the three suspects, Wilding jumped over a wall not knowing a 15-foot drop was on the other side. Less than 24 hours later he died from his injuries.
In 2017, the teens were charged with third-degree murder and burglary. All were sentenced to nine to 18 years behind bars. But this showed a gap in the Pennsylvania Crimes Code. Now, the new legislation would charge suspects with a felony when a police officer or k-9 is hurt or killed during a foot pursuit.
“There is no word awful enough to cover the loss of a child–to lose a child. There’s no word for that. I can’t change anything that happened to John, but from this day forward, no family will have to go through what we did,” said Mary Wilding, John’s mother.
“What we found as a result of that tragic death–the tragic death of Officer John Wilding–was that the PA crimes code did not have the offense of evading arrest by foot. We changed that with Senate Bill 814,” said Senator John Yudichak (I) District 14.
The bill was recently amended to include K-9s. If the animal is injured or killed by a suspect they are pursuing, that suspect can be held accountable for the cost of veterinary bills, replacement costs of the animal, and the salary of the animal’s handler for the period of time that officer’s services are lost to the agency.
The governor’s office tells Eyewitness News Governor Wolf is currently reviewing the bill. It is unclear if he will sign it into law today.