PHOENIX – Authorities arrested a Chandler police officer Wednesday in the death of a police dog that was left in a hot patrol car for more than 12 hours.
Chandler police Sgt. Tom Lovejoy was booked into Maricopa County jail in Phoenix on a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty after a two-week investigation into the death of 5-year-old Belgian Malinois "Bandit."
Lovejoy was released later Wednesday, said Capt. Paul Chagolla, a spokesman for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
"I am certain Sgt. Lovejoy has suffered greatly from leaving his police dog in a sweltering car," Sheriff Joe Arpaio said in a news release. "I do not relish the idea of compounding his sadness. However, Lovejoy must be treated like anyone else in similar circumstances."
Lovejoy said over the phone Wednesday night that he is scheduled to appear in court on the charge on Sept. 25. He said his lawyer advised him not to comment further.
"With the sheriff railing on me right now, it's kind of hard to say anything," Lovejoy said.
The sheriff's investigation showed Bandit was in Lovejoy's patrol car from about 9 a.m. to a little after 10 p.m. on Aug. 11. During that time, the investigation found that Lovejoy ran errands for his wife, napped for a short time and later ate out with his wife. Lovejoy later found the dead dog in the car.
In a statement, Chandler police Chief Sherry Kiyler said the department respects and supports the criminal justice system and its processes.
"We remain saddened by the loss of K9 Bandit," she wrote. "At this time our internal investigation is continuing and further comment by our department would be inappropriate until the completion of this process."