A California district attorney announced Thursday that no charges will be laid over the death of a K9 officer who was left inside a hot patrol car last June.
Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward said his department concluded that Porterville police officer Oscar Vargas did not a commit a crime when he left his K9 partner “Idol” inside his patrol car on June 20.
Speaking in defence of his officer, Porterville Police Chief Eric Kroutil said Vargas’ intention in leaving the dog inside his patrol car was actually to keep it cool.
“Officer Oscar Vargas put the dog inside of his K9 vehicle to make sure he cooled down instead of in his kennel,” Chief Kroutil told KSEE News. “He turned on the vehicle and the air conditioning system and then went back inside to continue preparing for court.”
According to the Porterville Police Department, Vargas and Idol had been in training all day, so he decided to leave Idol inside his patrol car with the air conditioning running while he went inside his home. At some point, the air conditioning shut off, and temperatures inside the car quickly rose.
Police say the vehicle Vargas was using was equipped to run with the air conditioning for hours, and was equipped with sensors that should have alerted Vargas that it had shut off.
The department says it’s not uncommon for a K9 officer to spend hours inside the vehicle every day.
“In a 12 hour shift a K9 can spend the entire shift, never be deployed out of that vehicle,” Chief Kroutil said.
The Porterville Police Department has pledged to institute new guidelines and safey regulations to prevent accidents like this from happening in the future.