CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

K9 officer who was killed in line of duty will be missed, says police chief

Mar 1, 2022, 4:08 PM | Updated: Dec 29, 2022, 11:44 am

maya vet tech...

Image of West Jordan K9 officer, Maya. Photo credit: West Jordan Police Department

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — A police chief is remembering and honoring his beloved K9 officer killed in the line of duty earlier this month.

On Feb. 17, a decorated K9 officer was shot and killed in South Jordan, while chasing a gunman accused of aggravated assault and holding a woman against her will.

Eight officers from different departments fired shots at 25-year-old Zachary Tyler Alvarenga of West Jordan, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Monday, West Jordan police officers and invited K9 handlers from across the state gathered to pay their respect and to say goodbye to Maya, a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois, during a memorial service and procession in the city.

Goodbye, Maya, you will be missed

West Jordan Police Chief Ken Wallentine talked to KSL NewsRadio’s Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic about the important role Maya played in law enforcement and how much she will be missed by police officers.

“Let me just say I’m sorry for her loss, for the loss of Maya,” Dujanovic said.

“Thank you for that. And thanks for paying attention to this important event,” Wallentine said

Wallentine said K9 officers are trained to draw gunfire away from officers.

“When we lose a dog, there are losses on a number of levels, not the least of which is the loss really of a family member for the dog’s handler and the handler’s family.

“We see these dogs ultimately do what they’re trained, and sadly, sent to . . . draw the fire away and save officers’ lives. Sometimes, as was the case with Maya, take a bullet for one of my cops who got to go home — and she didn’t,” Wallentine said.

Life as a K9 police dog

“Can you help us understand how much time, effort, and money goes into training one of these dogs?” Noriega asked.

“Dave, it’s not just time, effort, and money. As a former dog handler, there’s a lot of sweat and sometimes a little bit of blood that goes into it,” the chief said.

Before a dog is selected for police service, up to two years of training must be performed, Wallentine said, adding that basic training takes an additional six to eight weeks.

“We don’t see the dogs for full capacity until they’ve had some significant time with their handler and worked out in the field,” he said.

“How long will a dog typically serve?” Noriega asked.

“Typically, we’re gonna see five to seven years. . . . It’s a very physically demanding job for the dog and for the handler. . . .  Sometimes you’ll see a little bit longer, maybe eight, nine years. Police service dogs tend not to live more than a dozen years or so. It’s a hard life,” Wallentine said.

“To me, if a dog can take down a suspect, and that suspect survives that would be a win for the canine unit. Do I have my mind wrapped around that correctly?” Dujanovic asked.

“Absolutely Debbie. That was the hope on February 17,” the chief said. “The suspect chose not to let it end that way. But that was the hope. We would always prefer to take someone to the hospital to get a bite bandage than to take them to the morgue and have to let their family know,”

Read more about Maya:

Utah K-9 killed by fleeing corrections officer saved ‘countless’ lives, police say

Utahns honor police K-9 killed in the line of duty

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Crime, Police + Courts

A Utah man currently in prison has pleaded guilty to disarming a police officer. He grabbed the gun...

Emily Ashcraft, KSL.COM

Utah man who fired at police pleads guilty to disarming an officer

A man has pleaded guilty to grabbing a police officer's gun as part of a plea deal in which charges for firing at an officer were dismissed.

14 hours ago

A motorcycle crash has led to the death of a juvenile after they crashed while driving a motorcycle...

Kennedy Camarena

Motorcycle crash leads to death of a juvenile

A motorcycle crash has led to the death of a juvenile. Police believe the juvenile had lost control of the motorcycle, leading to the crash.

21 hours ago

A woman was arrested after engaging in domestic violence against her ex-boyfriend Tuesday at the Va...

Carlysle Price, KSLTV.com

Woman facing charges after group-assault against ex-boyfriend

The victim’s ex-girlfriend was physically assaulted by striking him with closed fists punching in the stomach and back after collecting her belongings.

23 hours ago

Kouri Richins attends a hearing on May 15 in Park City. Two new attorneys were appointed to represe...

Emily Ashcraft, KSL.com and Daniel Woodruff, KSL TV

Kouri Richins vows to prove innocence as new attorneys take over murder case

Kouri Richins sent voice recordings to multiple national media outlets maintaining she is innocent. This happened after her attorneys asked to be released from the case.

1 day ago

A Unified police car crashed into a suspect's yellow car to delay him from fleeing the scene, after...

Emma Keddington

Police officer hospitalized after being hit by suspect, another officer and suspect also hospitalized

One police officer was injured after being hit by a vehicle in South Salt Lake, according to Unified Police Department.

2 days ago

Gardens grown at the Utah State Correctional Facility...

Heather Peterson

New department prepares inmates for life after prison

A new prison program aims to help inmates gain work skills and training to to be successful for life after prison.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

K9 officer who was killed in line of duty will be missed, says police chief