MONTVILLE TOWNSHIP, Ohio - Updated at 8:02 p.m. on Oct. 7:
Montville Township Police Officer Brett Harrison issued the following apology:
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.
A K9 with the Montville Township Police Department died from apparent heat stroke after he was left inside of a cruiser on a warm day, according to Chief Terry Grice.
The dog's handler, Sgt. Brett Harrison, was found to have violated policy and procedures and has been suspended from the department.
According to the department, Sgt. Harrison arrived on station on the morning of Sept. 28 and went inside police headquarters to work on paperwork related to various cases.
Harrison left the 2-year-old dog, Beny, in the cruiser and failed to leave the windows open. The car was turned off.
More than four hours later, Harrison returned to the cruiser and discovered the dog laying lifeless in his rear passenger compartment's kennel.
The temperature when the officer arrived on station was 69 degrees and it was 79 degrees when the dog was found.
After a disciplinary hearing was conducted, Harrison received a two week unpaid suspension and a loss of 40 hours of vacation time.
The chief said Harrison was "completely forthright and cooperative" during the hearing.
"This is a loss that words cannot describe, and it is very difficult for everyone involved," said Chief Terry Grice. "There is no doubt that this loss will have a lasting impact on Sgt. Harrison and our entire department."
A statement from the department also said that Sgt. Harrison cared deeply about Beny. He worked with the dog more than 40 hour a week and Beny lived with Sgt. Harrison and his family when the two were off duty. Sgt. Harrison was overwhelmed with grief and is taking this loss very hard, the chief added.
Sgt. Harrison has been an exemplary officer who 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 worth though 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 Chief Grice.