Maricopa police officer suspended after K-9 dies in hot car

A Maricopa police officer was given a 20-hour suspension after his K-9 partner died in a hot car last year.

The department said on Feb. 10 an internal investigation was completed after Officer Craig Curry left K-9 Ike inside his patrol vehicle on a 105° day while he went into police headquarters for a meeting last summer.

(Howard Waggner / News of Maricopa)

Ike suffered heatstroke and was euthanized. He was the first Maricopa officer - dog or person - to die in the line of duty.

He had been left in a patrol vehicle for 90 minutes. When Curry returned, he realized the car and its cooling system were off and discovered the K-9 in respiratory distress.

"Officer Corey has been with us for many years and he was distraught," said Maricopa Police Chief James Hughes. "It took its toll on him."

The investigation found that Officer Curry had a K-9 heat alarm, but the pager connected to it was left in the vehicle.

The investigation was handled by the Dept. of Public Safety and then the Pinal County Attorney. The officer was suspended, but he was not charged with any crimes and new protocols have been put in place.

The internal investigation found that he failed to exercise proper care of the animal, operated the vehicle in an unsafe manner and was given an unsatisfactory code of conduct.

"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." Chief Hughes said. "We have taken a hard look at our policies and procedures, implementing preventive measures to ensure something like this will never occur again."

The department has bought a new K-9 vehicle with a state-of-the-art safety system. It includes a portable kennel to move the dog indoors, and the program will be reviewed yearly. Maricopa PD also plans to conduct month vehicle safety inspections and a 30 minute mandatory time limit to check on any K-9 in a car.

"The loss of the canine was the last to the entire department and we will move forward and continue to serve the public the best way we can," said Hughes.

The police department now has one K-9 officer named Murphy.

There will be a small private memorial for Ike later this month.

K-9 Ike (Maricopa Police Department)

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