Washington, DC – DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) K9 Rocket died in the line of duty on Monday after the temperature monitoring alarm system in his handler’s patrol vehicle failed.
The seven-year-old Belgian Malinois-German shepherd mix was sitting inside the idling patrol vehicle parked outside the MPD facility at 2800 New York Avenue Northeast when the incident occurred, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Like all MPD K9 vehicles, K9 Rocket’s patrol unit was equipped with an alarm system designed to trigger in the event the temperature inside the vehicle rose to an unsafe level, police said.
Police sources familiar with the investigation said K9 Rocket’s handler left the air conditioner running inside the patrol vehicle, but that the air conditioner failed at some point while the vehicle was unattended, WTOP reported.
It is unclear how long the K9 was left alone in the patrol unit.
When his partner returned to the vehicle, he found K9 Rocket dead inside, the MPD said in a press release.
The MPD said a full inspection of the vehicle was being conducted to determine why the alarm systems failed.
“The circumstances around the death are still being looked into,” MPD Spokesperson Dustin Sternbeck told The Washington Post on Tuesday.
K9 Rocket died of heatstroke, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
The temperature in DC topped out at 85 degrees on Monday, CBS News reported.
The MPD said an investigation into the incident remained ongoing.
K9 Rocket, an explosives detection dog, was assigned to the MPD’s Special Operations Division, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
MPD regrets to announce the passing of K9 Rocket, a long time explosives detection dog assigned to our Special Operations Division.
— DC Police Department (@DCPoliceDept) September 20, 2022
Our thoughts and prayers are with the DC Metropolitan Police Department in the loss of K9 Rocket.