Bennettsville policeman suspended 60 days after K-9 dies of heat - WBTW-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Florence, SC

Bennettsville policeman suspended 60 days after K-9 dies of heat stroke

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BENNETTSVILLE, SC (WBTW) - A Bennettsville Police dog died early Tuesday morning from heat stroke after being left in a car, and an officer has been suspended for 60 days, the police chief said on Thursday.

According to Police Chief Larry McNeil, the police K9 "Tank" died Tuesday and the officer in charge of the dog's care was suspended Thursday after the "lapse of duty" in the "unfortunate incident."

The chief said Thursday that there was no criminal intent on the part of Officer Robert Miller, who was Tank's handler.

Officer Miller has been suspended without pay and will be on probation for 90 days after coming back to work, the chief said.

McNeil said that Tank was ill on Monday and was taken to a veterinarian. Tank had been working with Officer Miller for 3 years, McNeil said.

McNeil confirmed on Thursday what he said earlier this week about Officer Miller -- that the officer would be banned from working with police dogs.

"Whatever the outcome may be we will not be allowing that officer to be involved with K-9s in the future," McNeil said on Tuesday.

According to the City of Bennettsville's website, the K9 unit consists of two officers with their K-9 partners. K-9 Max is a European long hair German Shepherd specializing in detection and tracking. K-9 Tank specializes in explosive detection and tracking.

This unit has the responsibility of not only providing these specialized services for the City of Bennettsville but also for the Marlboro County School System. Both K-9 officer and partners visit the schools on a weekly basis.

Here is the complete statement from McNeil on Thursday:

A most unfortunate incident occurred on August 12, 2013, resulting in the death of a Police K-9 named "Tank".

 As a result of this incident, the Bennettsville Police Department conducted a thorough criminal investigation; it was found that Tank died as a result of a heat stroke. Such investigation resulted in being dismissed as unfounded for criminal intent.

  However, due to Officer Miller's lapse of duty in this matter, the Bennettsville Police Department has suspended Officer Miller for 60 days without pay; has placed him on probation for ninety days thereafter, and permanently restricted him from being a K-9 handler in the future.

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