Law enforcement community in Jefferson County mourns death of K-9 officer Graffit
The law enforcement community in Jefferson County is mourning a fallen K-9 officer.
"When they lose an officer, when they lose a k9, they pull together a procession pretty quickly," said Jenny Fulton, Director of Public Affairs for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.
Graffit, a 10-year-old German Shepard, was the department's most senior K9 officer. He joined the team in 2015 and was killed in the midst of a police action Monday.
His loss was treated much the same as the loss of a human officer. Monday morning, law enforcement from across the state joined the procession along with Colorado dog lovers who had the time.
"He probably took the opportunity to save a police officer's life and so with that in mind, know what their contribution is and the training that goes into the dogs and the handlers, I just want to make sure they're respect for that," said Tracy Houge, standing alongside the procession with his dog, Rusty.
"We send the dog in and the dog can apprehend and generally it doesn't result in tragedy like this," said Fulton.
Fulton said law enforcement would normally shroud their badges for the loss of Graffit but they were already shrouded to honor Julian Becerra, a K-9 officer in Fountain, Colorado, who died in a line-of-duty death over the weekend.
It was just after midnight Monday when Graffit and his handler were called to assist Golden police and Campus Police at the Colorado School of Mines in the pursuit of an armed suspect near the college.
The situation started when campus police requested assistance from Golden police after a car was spotted with a man inside slumped over the steering wheel. He was not responsive to officers' attempts to alert him.
When the man woke up, police say he was able to free himself from an officer's grasp and take off. As officers ran after him, police say he pointed a gun at them.
At one point, the suspect fired shots and the K-9 was struck and died.
"He alerted on the suspect, which means that basically he barks and he's accomplished his goal," Fulton continued, "the dog was given the order to apprehend b but unfortunately he was shot and killed."
Shelter-in-place alerts went out to everyone on the college campus while officers searched for the suspect. Just before 5 a.m., the suspect came out of hiding and surrendered.
The college campus was closed down in the morning as a result but re-opened midday Monday.
The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office released the following statement about Graffit:
Graffit has loyally served the JCSO since 2015. He was trained in narcotics detection and patrol functions such as tracking and apprehension. He was a very hard working canine that, according to his previous handler, "always gave 110%." Today, he gave his life to protect the lives of his handler and the other officers on scene. We've always known Graffit was brave and now we know he is a hero. RIP Good Boy. We sure will miss you.
Graffit's body was taken in a procession from the scene of his death to Fort Collins late Monday morning. A necropsy will be performed on the animal's body at the Colorado State University's veterinary center.
The sheriff's office says people who kill a K-9 dog usually face a special set of criminal charges.
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