Print Cop loses 2 days pay for dead K-9
Written by Greg Ruland   
Wednesday, 29 December 2010 00:00

Cottonwood Police Chief Jody FanningA Cottonwood police sergeant will lose two days pay in the wake of the death of Dakota, the Cottonwood police department’s drug-sniffing K-9. New handling procedures may also be implemented.

Sgt. Brian Campbell did not return a telephone message requesting comment after Police Chief Jody Fanning imposed the two-day suspension without pay Dec. 20.

An internal affairs investigation concluded Campbell caused Dakota’s death through “neglect or carelessness,” was inattentive to his duty and engaged in conduct unbecoming a police officer, according to the Notice to Suspend issued to Campbell.

Campbell waived his right to challenge the discipline by declining a pre-disciplinary conference that would have sent the matter to City Manager Doug Bartosh for a final decision.

The internal affairs investigation found several aggravating factors associated with Campbell’s violation of police policy:

  • Campbell was a newly promoted sergeant and still on probationary status when the incident occurred.
  • During the course of the morning’s activities, Campbell did not leave the station.
  • The public was extremely upset after hearing details of the incident.
  • Dakota was a valuable asset to the department and the community.

Several factors also mitigated Campbell’s violations:

  • The weather was not unusually hot the day of the incident.
  • Campbell was “tasked with approving an extraordinary number of reports (approximately 58 in total)” on the day of the incident.
  • Campbell experienced no similar incidents during the two years he was assigned a K-9.

Through a spokeswoman, Fanning declined to comment on the investigation or the likelihood of changes to police policy regarding the handling of animals.

City Attorney Steve Horton said he expected police policies regarding the handling of animals would probably be changed to make sure future incidents do no take place.

In a memo to Fanning dated Nov. 22, Cmdr. Jody Makuch, who reviewed reports and an audio recording before the internal affairs investigation was complete, recommended the department institute regular testing of the Hotdog alarm system used to alert canine officers if the internal temperature of a vehicle where an animal is kept becomes unsafe.

The internal affairs investigation concluded the alarm in Campbell’s patrol vehicle was operating properly but was not turned on.
Makuch also recommended canine officers be required to keep an inspection log for the alarm and its components.

Campbell told the internal affairs investigation there were no other handlers employed by the department to show him how the alarm functioned.

In his memo to Fanning, Makuch stated Campbell had ample time to seek guidance and instruction to be able to use the alarm adequately. Going forward, he recommended police policy include instructions on how to use the alarm.