MONTVILLE TOWNSHIP, OH (WOIO) - A Montville Township K9 has died after being left in a police vehicle for more than four hours. Now the officer is being disciplined.
It happened on Sunday, Sept. 28.
Chief Terry Grice says Sgt. Brett Harrison arrived on station at 10:54 a.m. and began working on paperwork related to several cases.
At 3:13 p.m., Harrison returned to the cruiser and discovered 2-year-old K9 Beny lying lifeless in his rear passenger compartment's kennel. EMS crews stationed at the police department tried to revive Beny, but it was too late.
Beny died as a result of injuries consistent with heat stroke, while in the back of the vehicle parked in the police department's lot.
Harrison failed to leave the windows open and the cruiser was turned off.
The temperature at the time Harrison arrived on station was 69 degrees. It was 79 degrees when the dog was discovered.
An administrative investigation was conducted, and as a result, Harrison was found to have violated policy and procedures.
After a disciplinary hearing, Harrison received a two-week unpaid suspension and a loss of 40 hours of vacation.
"This is a loss that words cannot describe, and it is very difficult for everyone involved," said Grice. "There is no doubt that this loss will have a lasting impact on Sgt. Harrison and our entire department. Sgt. Harrison cared deeply about Beny. He worked with him 40+ hours a week and Beny lived with Sgt. Harrison and his family when the two were off duty. Sgt. Harrison is overwhelmed with grief, and is taking this loss very hard."
Harrison has never received discipline since being hired onto the department on Sept. 11, 2007. He came to the department after serving 10 years in the United States Air National Guard, where he was deployed to Qatar during Operation Enduring Freedom.
Over the years, he has received awards and praise from law enforcement leaders for his dedication in getting weapons, drugs, and impaired drivers off the roads.
"While we work through this tragedy, the Montville Police Department remains committed to continuing our K9 program. We are committed to protecting our community through the use of police K9's. We are also committed to reviewing training and equipment options that are available to improve the safety conditions for the K9," said Grice.
Harrison wrote a letter to the department, apologizing for the death of his partner:
Dear Township Trustees,
I want to start by expressing my deepest apology to Montville Township, the Trustees, the citizens, the police department, my fellow officers and to my partner, Beny. I'm sorry to bringing this upon everyone.
I apologize to the trustees and police department for putting you all in this horrible position. I know that it is an unenviable position to have to deal with a situation as sad as this. I'm also sorry for the sadness and grief that you were put into.
Most of all, I want to say I'm sorry to my partner, friend and loving family member Beny. I wish everyday that I could go back and change that day or that I could put myself in your place. You will always be in my heart and I will miss you every second of every day.
I want you all to know that I will never forget any of this. Once again, I am sorry.
The department is getting safety equipment to try to prevent another tragedy like this. Police said they ordered a Hot N Pop, a device that will go in a K9 cruiser, designed to warn the human partner when temps in the vehicle get too hot and the windows will roll down automatically.
The same donor who helped purchase Beny, wants to help buy another police dog.
Montville Township Police notified the Medina County SPCA about the incident after it happened. Charges could be forthcoming.