A K9 officer with the Montville Police Department died late last month after being left in a police cruiser for several hours.
The K9, known as Beny, suffered a fatal heat stroke after Sgt. Bret Harrison left the officer in a backseat kennel for more than four hours without air conditioning or water.
Reports indicate that Harrison parked his vehicle outside the police department at 10:54 a.m. on Sept. 28 before finding Beny motionless at 3:13 p.m.
Montville Police Chief Terry Grice issued a short press release regarding the incident shortly after.
“This is a loss that words cannot describe, and it is very difficult for everyone involved. 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.”
“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.”
According to Montville police, Harrison has received a two-week unpaid suspension as well as the loss of a week’s vacation time for the death of Beny.
While the incident has undoubtedly affected the department in a negative way, local residents feel the case represents a clear double standard.
“‘He received a two-week unpaid suspension and a loss of 40 hours of vacation,'” Montville resident Billy Setter stated on social media. “What happens if anybody else kills a K9 ‘officer?'”
“Right Billy Setter, if I shoot a police dog, I would be charged with murder of a police officer, because the dog is considered part of the police force,” one man replied. “Cops though are held to a different standard and think they are above the law.”
Just last month, a K9 officer in North Carolina died after being left inside a hot police cruiser also, resulting in a minor suspension for the offending officer.
Similarly, residents immediately noted a double standard in the situation as well.
“I just think it’s crazy, because they get on everyone else for leaving their animals in the car and dying, and they want to throw them in jail, but they can’t do nothing about their own officer that kills one of their K9s,” local resident Michael Foss stated.
In a seperate incident, an officer caught abusing a K9 on camera last May only received a suspension despite glaring proof that he acted maliciously towards his partner.
On the other side of the spectrum, a South Carolina man received a 35-year prison sentence last January for killing a K9 officer during a 2011 altercation with police.