FITCHBURG — A large crowd gathered downtown on May 21 at the Fitchburg Police Memorial Park to pay tribute to fallen city police officers and unveil a memorial statue in honor of state police K-9 Frankie, who was shot and killed in the line of duty last summer.
Frankie was shot on July 26, 2022, during an attempt to apprehend an armed suspect who had barricaded himself inside a residence in the city. Despite being transported by ambulance to Wachusett Animal Hospital in Westminster and life-saving measures administered, the 10-year-old Belgian Malinois unfortunately succumbed to his injuries with state police Sgt. David Stucenski, his handler, partner, and best friend, by his side.
Frankie was the first Massachusetts State Police K-9 killed in the line of duty and the first police K-9 in the state to receive emergency care under Nero’s Law, which is named for a Yarmouth Police Department K-9 wounded in 2018. Frankie served nine years with the MSP and was highly decorated after answering hundreds of calls, including earning the Medal of Valor in 2017 with Stucenski.
“The relationship between our law enforcement community and our K-9 partners is inseparable,” said Fitchburg Police Chief Ernie Martineau following the somber event. “The senseless death of K-9 Frankie rocked our community. It’s an honor to preserve his dedication to service and duty for all to witness at the Fitchburg Police Memorial Park.”
The Fitchburg Police Relief Association, which organizes the yearly occasion, raised thousands of dollars to create a memorial statue for K-9 Frankie. This was the 59th annual Police Memorial Service, during which two city police officers killed in the line of duty were also acknowledged – Kenneth Bell, whose last call was on Oct. 18, 1962, and Peter Nikitas, whose last call was on Aug. 27, 1978.
“This date will show remembrance for current and former officers of the Fitchburg Police Department,” reads a post on the FPD Facebook page. “…We thank all who made donations toward the Frankie statue over this past year. It would not have been possible without the countless donations made from people and organizations from across the United States and the Fitchburg community.”
The Leominster Police Department recognized FPD’s efforts with its own social media post.
“This beautiful memorial and statue of K9 Frankie, who was killed in the line of duty on July 26th, 2022, was dedicated by our sister City, Fitchburg, MA yesterday. K9 Frankie was near and dear to us all in this area and will never be forgotten.”
Leominster Police Chief Aaron Kennedy said they are proud of their fellow Twin Cities police department for paying tribute to K-9 Frankie in a very fitting and dignified way.
“The tragedy that involved State Trooper Frankie and the Fitchburg Police Department affected every K-9 handler and officer across our country and state. Therefore, the Fitchburg Police did a fitting tribute to honor Trooper Frankie for his bravery and dedicated service to the Massachusetts community,” Kennedy conveyed on Wednesday. “The statue of Frankie was shared by many via social media and the number of likes and love was well deserved for his service. The figure of Frankie is going to continue his memory and legacy forever.”