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Arizona officer given 20-hour suspension in hot car death of his police K9

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Posted at 7:18 PM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 19:27:20-05

MARICOPA, AZ — A Maricopa, Arizona, police officer was given a 20-hour suspension after the hot car death of his K9 partner.

According to a report from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, on June 26, 2020, Officer Craig Curry left K9 Ike inside his patrol vehicle with the engine running while he went into the Maricopa police headquarters for a meeting at 3 p.m.

At approximately 4:40 p.m. Curry went back to his vehicle and realized it had turned off. K9 Ike was located in the K9 kennel in the back of the vehicle panting heavily with glossy eyes from the heat.

The high temperature that day was approximately 108 degrees.

Curry attempted to start the car several times but it would not turn on. He then got help from other officers to try to cool down Ike and transported him to a veterinarian in Maricopa. Due to Ike’s condition, he then had to be transported to a veterinarian in Gilbert, Arizona, for treatment and was taken by ambulance.

On the morning of June 27, the decision was made to euthanize Ike because of complications with heatstroke.

During the investigation, it was discovered that Curry had a device called a K9 heat alarm on his vehicle to detect if the vehicle became unsafe for a police K9, but the pager was left inside the vehicle at the time of the incident. Officer Curry says that he did not have the pager on him at the time because he was trying out a new body camera that took up space on his vest.

Maricopa police policy states that officers should check on their K9s at least once every 30 minutes. Approximately one hour and 40 minutes had gone by between when Curry left K9 Ike inside the vehicle, and when he returned to check on him.

An internal memo written by another officer in 2016 states that the pager system is “useless” and should be replaced by a system that runs through your cell phone instead.

“While the system comes with a 'pager,' the pager itself is useless and rarely works correctly or at all. My pager does not even tell me when the alarm is going off. Therefore the pagers are not used or carried by the handlers,” the memo stated.

An internal investigation by Maricopa police determined that Curry failed to notice broken equipment on and in his vehicle related to the K9 heat alarm, including missing antennas and loose connections on the system.

The report also shows 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.”

The internal investigation shows that the request for finances to upgrade the heat detection system had previously been approved but was never followed through on.

The investigation showed Curry had several code of conduct violations, but no charges were filed by the Pinal County Attorney’s Office. Officer Curry was given 20 hours of unpaid leave from his department.

This article was written by Clayton Klapper for KNXV.