Saturday, September 8, 2007

Now suddenly.... it's a misdemeanor?

The death of Bandit, touched a nerve in some, sympathy in others and sparked debate in the past few weeks in Maricopa County AZ. On Wednesday, September 5 2007, Sgt Tom Lovejoy was booked into an East Valley jail facility at approximately 3 pm and released on his own recognizance about 4:50 pm in relation to Bandit's death.

"I am certain that Sergent Lovejoy has suffered greatly from leaving his dog in a sweltering car. I do not relish the idea of compounding his sadness. However, Lovejoy must be treated like anyone else in similar circumstances," stated Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Bandit was a 5 year-old Belgian Malinois and Lovejoy had been his handler in the police department for three years. Lovejoy's arrest came after weeks of investigation, according to the reports. Arpaio stated that he had no answer to why Lovejoy had "lost track" of his dog but he believed that is was not intentional.

Lovejoy's partner, Bandit wasn't exactly, misplaced nor did he die accidently from overheating on the job. The investigation found that Lovejoy was on an off-duty assignment, August 11 with Bandit about 3 am and returned home at 9:15 am. He parked his SUV outside his home and left Bandit inside the vehicle.

The report went on to state that Lovejoy and his stepdaughter then left to run an errand. While running that errand, he received a call that his stepson was involved in a motor vehicle crash and needed help retrieving insurance documents. That task was said to have taken him approximately 40 minutes.

Lovejoy was shown to have spent the rest of the day making several trips outside the home in his personal vehicle, took a nap at one point and then went out with his wife for dinner. He found Bandit after 10 pm that night after a day of outside temperatures of 115 degrees....... and by that time, Bandit was long gone.

The Chandler police more than irrated people when they announced that Bandit's service would be held privately. Members of the community organized their own memorial that drew more than 200 people. Lovejoy has been charged with suspicion of animal cruelty, a misdemeanor and faces up to six months in jail, more than $1,000 in fines, probation and prohibition from owning another animal.

Chandler Police Chief Sherry Kiyler stated that it would be inappropriate to comment on Lovejoy's arrest because of a continuing internal investigation. She added that the department remains saddened by the loss of Bandit. It is reported that Lovejoy has returned to work from paid administrative leave and is on a "limited duty status" working inside the office.

I do find it odd that Lovejoy has joined the ranks of the average of 25 prosecutions for cruelty in Arizona and the claims that he will be treated just as everyone else. First off, I believe Lovejoy is well versed with the law and should have known the ramifications of leaving his dog in the car, unlike many average citizens. Secondly, this wasn't just the family pet he neglected to suffer and die in his car after 13 hours..... this was his "partner." I do find it difficult to believe that he didn't notice Bandit was missing in all those hours, unless of course, this dog had a huge bladder.

Bandit I am going to guess, cost the department more than $10,000 to purchase and more to continue his training and upkeep. Lovejoy destroyed valuable police property by letting Bandit die the way he did. If the department though, wishes to treat Lovejoy just as any citizen........ why then is he not charged with the death of a police officer, just as many a suspect who shoots, stabs, kicks, punches or in the rare case of Jayna Hutchinson, VT, charged with cruelty to a police animal for staring at it "menacingly," or in other cases, assault on a police officer.

Charging Lovejoy simply with a misdemeanor of cruelty is not I believe, treating him as any other citizen. He killed another officer through his negligence, one who many times, carries a badge and is as much a partner as a two legged one.

Of note:

Thank you for your comment but in reading the site you suggested, I find nothing to change original question........... I have no doubt that Sgt Lovejoy cared deeply for his dog and partner and had not questioned that. I am very glad that the site made such a large point of mentioning that he had in fact "self reported" the incident, since it would have been difficult for him to arrive at work without Bandit and have no explaination.

What I had asked simply was why a civilian suspect is all too frequently charged with assaulting an officer when they may have only kicked a police K-9 accidently during an arrest or in the case of the woman in NH, dragged through the court system for over a year for making menacing faces at a police dog and Sgt Lovejoy, for whatever reasons, may have forgotten his partner in the car, leading to his death..... simply a mistake?

I had not based my post on rumors but rather on information within a law enforcment based site, one that I would hope would have places Lovejoy in the best light for his behavior. It still is my opinion that either all suspects in Arizona would touch a police K-9 should not be charged with assault or Sgt Lovejoy should be held to the same standard and be charged with killing a police officer.

People kill the ones they love, whether by accident or with malice, it has happened for centuries........ I am sure that Sgt Lovejoy cared very deeply for Bandit but loving him doesn't free him from prosecution, much as the driver who has an accident and kills a beloved friend or family member does not escape prosecution for that negligence based on how much they loved the victim.

1 comment:

Lee said...

I'm afraid I have to disagree, and as the facts unfold, I hope that you will reconsider.

Based on what was known on the 8th, your conclusion seems valid. Yes, Bandit was a special dog. Actually a partner in the department's assault on crime. But more than that, he was beloved by Sgt. Lovejoy. What then could have caused him to commit this cruel, thoughtless and yes, 'reckless' act, as ARS 13-2910 denotes? How about a mental lapse? And by the way, in Arizona conviction is a class 6 felony.

But how could that happen to a human being? The father who forgot that his child was in the back seat on his way to work until mid morning, when it was too late to save him comes to mind. Was that an act of cruelty? He was not prosecuted, nor was the Chandler man who recently committed the same kind of unthinkable act. Both of these were due to mental lapses, and both involved changes in their normal routines.

We all know of cases where a person deliberately leaves a pet or child in a car while having a beer, or perhaps running to answer the phone. The term 'Reckless' would certainly be appropriate there.

But Sgt. Lovejoy's case is unique, in that all the wrong things seemed to happen at once. If the details presented below are correct, the man should never have been charged with a felony. In fact, he should not have been cited. The evidence forthrightly points to an unfortunate accident, and plainly not a criminal offense.

The term 'reckless' connotes a deliberate pattern of behavior. To extend that to include a mental lapse by a person of high standards, or one who may have been under stress and/or fatigue at the time is flat wrong.

Read the following, and then perhaps, reassess.

signed, a dog lover