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Benefit in honor of fallen Buffalo Police officer to be held next week

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

A benefit will be held in Buffalo on Thursday, November 16 in honor of the late Buffalo Police Officer Craig Lehner. Proceeds from the event will support the division in which Lehner served for many years.

Buffalo Police announced details of the benefit, which will be held at Club Marcella. Basket raffles and silent auctions, as well as a $20 donation to enter, will raise funds that the Buffalo Police Department will use to acquire a new police dog, which will be named in Lehner's honor.

'The average police K-9 can range anywhere from eight to eleven thousand dollars, depending on which breed you get," said Police Lieutenant Jeff Rinaldo. 

Lehner was a longtime member of the Buffalo Police K-9 Unit. He died last month during a diving training exercise in the Niagara River. His body was found five days later after an extensive search utilizing numerous police and other first response agencies.

Rinaldo said Lehner's former K-9 partner, Shield, has been visiting local schools and is still in the process of being matched with a new handler. 

"It's continuing," Rinaldo said. "It's a union-contractual thing, so they're working through some of those issues right now, looking at the seniority list and trying to match up the right handler to the dog."

The investigation into Lehner's death also continues, though Rinaldo again noted that the probe will take weeks, if not months, before they may have answers as to what happened in the Niagara River on October 13.

In honor of Lehner, Channel 22 has put together a tribute. The 20-minute video will begin airing Friday - Lehner's birthday - and Saturday every other hour beginning at 10 a.m. The City Hall Dome also will be lit in blue Friday in honor of Lehner's birthday.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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