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Arizona police officer suspended after K9 partner dies in hot car

Written by on February 11, 2021

A police officer in Maricopa, Ariz., was given a 20-hour suspension after the death of his K9 partner Ike.

The 9-year-old Dutch Shepherd was left inside Officer Craig Curry’s patrol vehicle last summer for an hour and 40 minutes during a meeting at the Maricopa Police headquarters.

Maricopa Police policy advises officers to check on their K9 partners at least once every 30 minutes, according to KNXV-TV in Phoenix.

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In an internal investigation of the June 26, 2020 incident, Curry said he had left the car with the engine running, the air conditioning on the third fan speed and the coldest temperature setting, and the windows rolled up and doors locked. 

Upon his return, the officer found that the engine had shut down and Ike — stuck in the built-in K9 kennel near the trunk — had suffered heatstroke.

The high temperature for that day was around 107 degrees, according to the department’s report. 

Curry attempted to restart the car multiple times, but it would not comply. He then ran back inside the building to get help, and other officers took immediate action to cool down the dog. 

Ike was raced to a local veterinarian for emergency treatment, after which he was transferred to a veterinary emergency hospital in nearby Gilbert.

There, Ike’s condition degraded, and the decision was made to humanely euthanize Ike on the morning of June 27.

A necropsy was conducted and Ike was later cremated.

The investigation also found that while Curry had a K9 heat alarm called the AceK-9 Hot-N-Pop Pro to detect if the vehicle became unsafe for a K9, the pager connected to it was left inside the vehicle at the time of the meeting.

Curry explained that he had left the pager because he was trying out a new body camera that took up space on his vest, and local news website, inmaricopa.com, reported he had left his vest, duty belt, and a firearm in the vehicle.

In addition, Curry had reportedly failed to notice broken equipment on and in his vehicle related to the K9 heat alarm, and requests to upgrade the detection system that had been previously approved were never followed through on.

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Furthermore, the report noted that Curry “had the ability to park in a shaded spot, had the ability to bring his K9 inside the building, or had the ability to repeatedly check on K9 Ike throughout his meeting” and that he had “failed to take additional safety precautions, particularly with a recent mechanical issue with his vehicle where it would lose power.”

Curry, who joined the force in 2008 and started as a K9 handler in 2013, was found to have violated three code of conduct policies, including a failure to exercise care or control in the use of MPD equipment, property, materials, forms and facilities, the operation of an MPD vehicle in an unsafe manner that caused damage to city property, or brought negative attention to MPD, and unsatisfactory performance. 

The Pinal County Attorney’s Office did not file charges against Curry, saying that the board found he had not committed any act that warranted criminal prosecution.

“There is no evidence to dispute OFC Curry showed a great deal of love and devotion for K9 Ike,” the report read.

Police Chief Jim Hughes said in a statement that they were “deeply saddened” by the death of Ike and that the department was taking “corrective action.”

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“With any incident of this magnitude, as well as in our day-to-day practices, we always look for ways in which we can improve,” said Hughes. “We have taken a hard look at our policies and procedures, implementing preventive measures to ensure something like this will never occur again.”

Maricopa police announced it would eliminate one of its two K9 units as well as commit to yearly formal reviews of the program, quarterly written reports, and monthly vehicle inspections by supervisors.

Fox News reached out to the Maricopa Police Department for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.

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