By Stephanie Taylor
From: Tuscaloosa News
NORTHPORT | The Northport Police Department lost its police dog in a car crash Saturday night that also left the dog’s handler injured.
Officer Darren Miller and his dog Be-Low were en route to a stand-off on 60th Court in Northport when Miller lost control of his police cruiser on Alabama Highway 171. Be-Low was thrown from the car and later died at a veterinarian’s office, Police Chief Robert Green said.
Miller’s injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.
Miller and Be-Low, a dog trained to detect explosives and track suspects, had been working at the University of Alabama football game on Saturday. They were en route to a home where a man had barricaded himself in his attic after allegedly attacking his wife, Green said.
Be-Low had been with the department for about five years, and was known for his no-nonsense, aggressive but well-trained attitude.
“That dog did not play around,” Green said, after recalling stories of officers who had made the mistake of petting Be-Low’s back instead of sticking to his head.
A funeral at NPD headquarters is being planned, since Be-Low was killed in the line of duty.
Miller’s accident was the second time he has been injured while on duty. On Feb. 19, 2007, he suffered from broken ribs, a back injury and a concussion after he collided with a Jeep Cherokee at Clear Creek Parkway and U.S. Highway 43. He was out of work for about two years while he recovered, Green said.
Green, citing privacy concerns, did not describe Miller’s injuries from Saturday’s crash.
The man who had barricaded himself in the attic had assaulted his wife, Green said. The man’s 8-year-old son ran to a Northport Police sergeant’s nearby home for help. The officer witnessed the man choking his wife before the man ran inside the house. Officers searched the two-story house and eventually saw the man’s foot hanging from the ceiling entrance to the attic. He refused to come down for nearly three hours, Green said, but surrendered after officers used pepper spray.
“We didn’t know if he was armed or not when we went in,” Green said.
The man was arrested and charged with two counts of second-degree domestic violence. He is accused of choking his wife and pushing his 12-year-old son, who tried to stop him.
Green said that the department will try to find money in its budget to buy a new dog and replace the police cruiser, a special K-9 vehicle with continuous air conditioning, which was totaled in the accident. The department bought Be-Low from a trainer in Germany for about $13,500, he said. Replacing the vehicle and training brings the total cost of a police dog to about $30,000, he said.
Read more: Tuscaloosa News