Update: K9 officer Ajax can be kept by his handler, with specific conditions

New update for Wednesday can be found here.

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Today a press conference was held by the City of Marietta Police Department regarding a retired police officer who wanted to retain possession of his K9 partner. According to WTAP, Officer Matt Hickey, a K9 handler who retired from the Marietta, Ohio, police force in late January, would be allowed to retain his K9 partner, Ajax. However, certain conditions were applied to this decision, as detailed below.

The situation, which blew up the internet in the last week and was reported here, arose when Officer Hickey retired, and thereafter contacted the city that he wanted to retain custody of his K9 partner, Ajax. He had been discussing his options with the department prior to his retirement. If Ajax was also retiring, he could have purchased his partner for $1.00, which is how the law is written in that jurisdiction. However, K9 Ajax still has several working years left before he is due to retire, and, reportedly, Officer Hickey’s request was denied.

On the day of his retirement, Officer Hickey offered to pay the amount he was told that Ajax was worth, $3,500, a purchase which was also denied by the City, per the same regulations. Social media took up his cause, and thisGoFundMe was established, with the goal being to raise that $3,500, though Officer Hickey already could supply those initial funds. It was reported that, though he could not be purchased outright by Officer Hickey, since he was City property, Ajax could be auctioned off, as the Ohio Revised Code mandates. Donations started pouring in to the GoFundMe to insure Officer Hickey could make the highest sealed bid, which was how the winner of the auction would be determined. The donations to that fund have, as of this report, reached over $65,000. Any amount accrued which exceeded the winning bid is slated to purchase bullet resistant vests for K9’s in that area.

Today’s press release gives a different spin on the events. Per today’s press release from the Marietta Police Department, in a meeting on January 28, Officer Hickey was given the opportunity to keep Ajax, at no cost to him, if he agreed to become a member of that city’s volunteer auxiliary program. Under this program, the pair would be involved in community relations. According to the release, at that time, Officer Hickey agreed to the compromise. However, when he was later questioned about the disposition of Ajax and the offer extended to him by the City, he made no mention of the offer. It is unknown at this time where, and why, the two stories have hit a fork in the road.

The City’s presser states, “At no time did former officer Hickey explain that City officials both elected and appointed were working to keep Ajax with him.” The City still stands behind that offer. His duties would allow him to keep Ajax, and continue as an auxiliary police K9 handler. Officer Hickey has offered no public statement since that presser was held.

If you have any comments, the City is asking that you email publicvoice@mariettaoh.net.

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