EL PASO COUNTY — The El Paso County Sheriff's Office held a memorial service on Thursday, April 21 at 11 a.m. to mourn the loss of K9 officer, Jinx, who died in the line of duty.
On April 11, Jinx was shot by an armed suspect during an overnight police shooting in Manitou Springs.
Sheriff Bill Elder at the memorial service said that Jinx's actions that night "certainly saved the lives" of the two officers on the scene.
In just 2 years at the department, the police K9 deployed 124 times, including 64 narcotic and 58 SWAT deployments, according to Sheriff Elder.
The El Paso County Sheriff's Office says that "K9 Jinx’s partner and family, his law enforcement family, and the Pikes Peak Region have suffered a tremendous loss."
Elder said that "when we lost Jinx, we lost a member of our office, he was one of our own."
During his remarks, Elder also talked about the relationship between a K9 officer and his handler.
"The bond between a K9 officer and his handler is so strong, both look to each other for protection. With a solid partnership and true friendship, the K9 officer and his partner can perform truly heroic acts that neither could do alone."
K9 Jinx and his handler, Deputy Hancock, began training together in March 2020. Together, the two located 22 suspects, Jinx apprehended six of them, and $250,000 in illegal narcotics. pic.twitter.com/lR2BUwHq4i— Ashley Portillo (@AshleyPorteeyo) April 21, 2022
Another member of the K9 Handler team, Deputy Nick Witherite, said that "Jinx will forever be a hero," after he "sacrificed his life to protect the officers on scene and the community that was in the line of fire of the suspect."
Witherite also spoke about what it's like being a K9 handler, and how they're tasked with responding to the worst situations you could possible imagine.
"We're given little to no time to process and are forced to make split second decisions. There’s a saying that we always use. Paws before boots. We have the mindset to utilize a police K9 where it’s too dangerous for humans to go in first," said Witherite. "The decision to use K9 Jinx as a less than lethal option in that situation ultimately cost Jinx his life, but Jinx proudly and without hesitation sacrificed his life to protect his handler, officers on scene, and the community which was in direct line from the suspect."
Lt. James Vidmar told News 5 he believes this is the first case of an El Paso County K9 officer dying in the line of duty.
Jinx was three years old and had been serving with the department since March 2020. Jinx has been recognized in the past for his service in protecting the lives of El Paso County Deputies.
Sheriff Bill Elder, along with the members of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, have invited law enforcement partners and the public to honor K9 Jinx at New Life Church located at 11205 Voyager Parkway in Colorado Springs. The doors will open at 9:00 AM for seating.
The Welcome and Invocation of the service will be given by Pastor Mel Waters of New Life Church. A Thin Blue Line Reading will be given by the El Paso Sheriff's Office Chaplain Jessica Zachman. The two speakers will be El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder, and Deputy Nick Witherite, who is part of the department's K-9 Unit.
KOAA News 5 will be in attendance and will stream the service live.
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