Utahns honor police K9 killed in the line of duty

Gordan McChesney holds a skinny blue line flag as he, his spouse, Janise McChesney, and their canine, Elphaba, collect at Veterans Memorial Park in West Jordan on Monday, in honor police Ok-9 officer Maya, who was killed within the line of obligation throughout an officer-involved capturing. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret Information)

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WEST JORDAN — A West Jordan police Ok-9 that made the final word sacrifice whereas defending her handler and different officers from a fleeing gunman, was remembered Monday as a canine that not solely beloved her work, however beloved the eye she acquired each day from the officers who had been her “household.”

“What we known as work, Maya known as play time. She beloved her play. She had an incredible nostril for locating narcotics and monitoring suspects,” West Jordan Police Lt. Chad Haun stated throughout a memorial service held Monday. “Throughout her 4 years working with West Jordan, Maya grew to become one of the best and most dependable narcotics canine that we’ve got. Maya was discovering narcotics each single shift that she labored.”

On Feb. 17, as officers from a number of companies ran after a gunman who had already led police on three separate automobile chases, police Ok-9 Maya, a 6 1/2-year-old Belgian Malinois, was launched to chase after the suspect. Simply as she was closing in, the gunman turned and fired.

“Maya leapt upward and stopped a bullet meant for her handler,” West Jordan Police Chief Ken Wallentine stated Monday.

Eight officers from three companies — West Jordan, South Jordan and Unified police departments — returned fireplace, killing the 25-year-old suspect.

On Monday, a small group of West Jordan officers and invited Ok-9 handlers from throughout the state, gathered on the Lifeline Group Church, 4431 Lifeline Lane, to pay their respects and say goodbye.

Maya began her police profession with the West Valley Police Division in 2015. In 2018, she began with West Jordan. Throughout her time with each companies, officers famous that even at a younger age, Maya had a “nice nostril” and rapidly grew to become a extremely adorned canine at state and nationwide competitions.

However what made Maya so endearing to all officers was how she would go from desk to desk on the workplace, in search of “loves” from officers or play “tug” with a rope toy. Not solely was Maya one of many prime police Ok-9s within the state, however she was additionally a “sweetheart” across the workplace, Haun stated.

West Jordan Police Sgt. Michael Jones, head of the division’s Ok-9 unit, stated the bond created between a police canine and its handler is extraordinary. The Ok-9s are with their handlers 24/7, even when the handler is not working. However the handler is all the time correcting a police Ok-9’s unhealthy habits and reinforcing their good habits. The result’s a bond between the Ok-9 and the handler in contrast to another, and an unwavering loyalty to the purpose the Ok-9 will danger its life with out query to guard its handler, Jones stated.

Such was the case with Maya and her handler, West Jordan police officer Tyler Longmore, whom Jones likened to “two outdated souls that had been collectively for a lifetime.”

“She solely wished to please him,” he stated. “Her obedience was second to none. She had a particular place in everybody’s coronary heart.”

Wallentine stated he has acquired 1000’s of messages of condolence from throughout the USA and from as far-off as Canada and Brazil since Maya’s loss of life. The chief, who was once a Ok-9 handler, additionally harassed the devoted nature that police Ok-9s present day-after-day, even when it means placing themselves in hurt’s means.

“You sleep safely and quietly in your beds at night time as a result of the women and men of our blue household stand able to put themselves between violence and also you. Maya stood there to guard women and men in blue,” he stated. “We mourn the value that she so willingly paid and we honor the sacrifice she gave.”

On the finish of the service, an honor guard offered Longmore with the Medal of Valor, the West Jordan Police Division’s highest award, together with a folded American flag.

Following the companies, West Jordan police together with Ok-9 officers from companies throughout the state, plus some from Idaho and Wyoming, took Maya on her remaining “patrol,” main her on a brief procession across the metropolis.

At West Jordan Veterans Memorial Park, 1985 W. 7800 South, dozens of members of the general public — many who introduced their very own canines and waved American flags or flags with a skinny blue line — lined the sidewalk because the lengthy procession went by way of the park and underneath a West Jordan fireplace truck draping a U.S. flag from its prolonged ladder.

“They do an incredible job and the canines are superb. It is the very least we are able to do,” stated Janice McChesney, from West Jordan, who was on the park together with her husband, Gordon, to honor Maya.

“(She’s) a part of the group,” stated Chris Anderson, of West Jordan, who additionally was on the park. “Really feel its finest to pay our respects.”

Nancy Pinnell, of Sandy, watched the procession together with her two canines. Her household has been energetic with the Intermountain Kennel Membership and donates one bullet-proof vest every year to a police company.

“I am a canine lover and I wish to help the police and simply that custom of my household being part of serving to canines get vests is essential to us. So I wished to come back and honor Maya,” she stated.

“Canine are so harmless and so devoted to us,” she continued. “Canine are superb creatures and I feel that Ok-9 officers are a very welcome addition to assist our communities to make them as protected as attainable. It makes it safer for the human officers. It is all the time unhappy to lose an officer at any level. However to me, a Ok-9 officer is particular to my coronary heart as a result of I am a giant canine advocate.”

Jones ended his feedback by studying A Police Canine’s Prayer, which states, partly, “Watch over my handler as I’m away. … Defend my handler from hurt whereas I am unable to take action.”

Haun ended his feedback with the phrases of Longmore: “Relaxation simple woman, I’ve received it from right here.”

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