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Council to decide fate of officer who left police dog in car

Published: Sun, June 26, 2011 @ 12:07 a.m.

Staff report

new castle, pa.

The fate of an officer whose police dog died in the back of a hot cruiser is now up to city council.

Police Chief Tom Sansone said that during an internal department investigation into how the accident happened, he and the mayor both agreed that Officer James Hoyland deserves more than 10 days’ suspension over the June 4 death of Chico, a 6-year-old Dutch shepherd that had been with the department for two years.

In agreeing to that, they went to the next step in the civil-service law process, which is to send Hoyland before the city council for a hearing, Sansone said.

The council must decide if he deserves up to 30 days’ suspension, or it can decide he should be fired.

“That’s the way the civil-service law is — I can give up to 10 days off, then city council has to take the next step,” he said.

Hoyland found the dog in the back of his cruiser, which was parked at the police station, after he came back from an extra 4-hour shift at city housing projects — he used a different vehicle for the special shift. The dog had been in the car from 4 p.m. to almost 8 p.m. Hoyland had left the car on with the air conditioning running, but it’s likely the air conditioning stopped working after two hours of idling, Sansone said.

K-9 cruisers are equipped with “hot boxes,” which sound an alarm and lower the windows if the car gets too hot. Sansone said an investigation showed the hot box was working properly, but it was unclear if it was turned on.

Hoyland rushed Chico to a vet, where he died.

Sansone said a criminal investigation by the district attorney is still going on. The district attorney estimates it may take another week, he said.

Hoyland has been on unpaid leave since June 5. If he ends up on a longer leave than council decides he should have, he will be paid for the difference, Sansone said.

If he’s terminated, he won’t get any back pay, he said.

If the district attorney charges Hoyland with a first-degree misdemeanor or a felony, he would be fired upon a conviction, Sansone said.

A date has not yet been set for the hearing, and it will be closed unless Hoyland requests it be open to the public, Sansone said.


1CassAnn(252 comments)posted 5 years ago

I don't see the point in punishing the officer for the car malfunctioning. If he had locked the dog in and manually shut the car off I would say to hang him by his toenails but that wasn't what happened. There is no way the officer could have known the air conditioning would stop working.

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2whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 5 years ago

RE: CassAnn , attorneys are trying to add in reasonable doubt. This cop killed that dog plain and simple, if he was suppose to be his partner you dont just leave him in a closet for 4 hours and hope he is alright, The dog can't get on the radio and call for help, This dog (officer) was BOILED ALIVE, think of that while they determine the fate.

Police are held to a higher standard,
therefore a higher punishment is needed for this crime......

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3misterlee(118 comments)posted 5 years ago

Even if there was a system to put the windows down after 2 hours, everyone knows you can't leave a dog alone in a car sitting in the sun for four hours. The officer should lose his job for being so negligent he got his partner killed.

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4steelwagon(284 comments)posted 5 years ago

I'd like to know how the city can afford to let a car run for 4 hours with the a/c running.
Seems like an expensive waste of gas.
It would have been better for all concerned to have brought the dog inside the station which I'm sure is air conditioned.

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5joydav(41 comments)posted 5 years ago

I agree with everyone except CassAnn. If the k9 is considered an actual police officer, the it is as if he is human. So, that means that this officer let his human partner die due to his negligence. If it were any other human, they would already been persecuted by the police and animal activist. Because he is a police officer, why is there so much more consideration going on. If a non-police person was in charge of the dog for a period of time, he/she would be under the jail right now for killing a COP. So why the preferential treatment here. He won't get fired, and he'll get all his money, and all will be well with the police department.

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6InColumbiana(63 comments)posted 5 years ago

It sounds like he left the protection device (the "hot box") turned off. So it sounds like the officer is at fault. If nothing else, I would expect the community to reject the officer (if he even gets to keep his job).

If I lived in that community, I'd be at the meeting... especially wanting to know why they leave a car idle for 4 hours. He could have radioed in at any time and told someone to go get the dog and turn the car off...

At $4/gal... that made no sense at all The dog should have been taken somewhere appropriate to wait and the car turned off. (Not to mention the wear on the motor in the heat).

What if that "hot box" had been turned on, and had opened the windows and a kid climed in for a joy ride? If it had worked, where was the dog supposed to go once he was out of the car? Is he supposed to stand on the street waiting without water? If someone approached the car, is he supposed to defend it with a human backup? That puts the dog at risk of being accused of attacking someone without cause.

Why do they think the AC worked for the first two hours? It could have gone out after the first 15 minutes?

It is such a shame this happened to this poor dog. Hopefully it will bring about more sense in how the K9 units operate.

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7CassAnn(252 comments)posted 5 years ago

You can't exactly take a dog inside every building due to laws, police dog or not. It is very common to see police dogs inside cruisers unattended while officers are inside buildings and the officer leaves the air conditioner on for the dog. Poor judgment that he didn't check on the dog half way through his shift, but hardly an intentional animal abuse case and again, no crystal ball to tell him that the air conditioner had malfunctioned.

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8CassAnn(252 comments)posted 5 years ago

Plus the article states that he used a different vehicle than the one he was accustomed to driving. He was probably very unaware that the a/c had problems or that the hot box wasn't working.

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9RickJude7496(16 comments)posted 5 years ago

I believe they are saying he took his assigned K9 equipped cruiser to the station, left it there with the dog in it while he went in a different cruiser to his side job of four hours. In my opinion, its inexcusable. Terminate him and fine him the replacement value of a new police dog.

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10mcluvin(72 comments)posted 5 years ago

It is common practice to leave a K9 in a vehicle unattended. The dog cannot get out even if the windows were to have rolled down. There is a cage on the windows to prevent the public from trying to pet the dog. He probably should have left the windows down but it doesn't seem to me like he did anything wrong here other then not calling in to have someone check on the dog. Cruisers run pretty much the entire time during a shift idle or not. K9 Officers have a special bond with their dogs. I am sure he is quite shaken up about this to begin with. The safest place for a police dog is in the cruizer it protects the dog and other officers or the public. The problem seems to be in the vehicle it seems to me that he followed common practice if nothing else.

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