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West Jordan Journal

K-9 officer honored in West Jordan

Nov 07, 2023 03:56PM ● By Peri Kinder

From left, West Jordan Councilmember Melissa Worthen, Jenny Longmore, West Jordan police officer Taylor Longmore and Mike Worthen pose with a portrait of West Jordan K-9 officer Maya. Mike Worthen painted the portrait as a gift to the city, representing sacrifice, loyalty, dedication and service. (Photo courtesy of West Jordan City)

When West Jordan K-9 officer Maya was killed in action on Feb. 17, 2022, her death was a heartbreaking sacrifice. Shot in the line of duty, protecting her handler West Jordan police officer Taylor Longmore and other officers, Maya was remembered in the community for her courage and dedication to the department. 

A highly-decorated K-9 officer, Maya was a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois who had served with the West Jordan police department for two years after working as a K-9 officer in West Valley City for four years. Maya was presented with a posthumous Medal of Valor for her sacrifice. 

On Oct. 5, West Jordan City Councilmember Melissa Worthen and her husband, Mike Worthen, presented the city with a painting of Maya that will hang in the West Jordan Justice Court building, 8040 S. Redwood Road. The portrait, painted by Mike Worthen, is a gift that represents loyalty, dedication, sacrifice and service to the community. 

“I wanted it to show the importance of our canine officers. I think they’re just as important as our human officers,” Mike Worthen said.  “I wanted this to be a symbol of that part of the force in our city.”

When Melissa Worthen stepped down from her position at the end of October, after moving to Colorado, she had been looking for something to give West Jordan that represented her four years in office. The Worthens were driving through Colorado when they saw a K-9 memorial in front of the police station in Castle Rock. Entitled “Jax,” the bronze statue is a tribute to all police service dogs. 

“We just looked at each other and thought what better symbol of sacrifice and service than Maya who gave to our community and saved the lives of our officers,” she said. “[Maya] represents true dedication, unselfishness and sacrifice to your community, and that’s what we were looking for.”

Mike Worthen spent several weeks working on Maya’s portrait, trying to capture the essence of the officer, especially the light and joy in her eyes. He wanted to make sure the portrait was an accurate representation of Maya and the effect she had on the community. 

West Jordan elected officials, city leaders, members of the West Jordan Police Department and residents from the community were on hand for the presentation of the portrait. 

“[This is important because] it means that somebody recognizes sacrifices made by our people, including our animal service officers,” West Jordan Deputy Chief Jeremy Robertson said. “It’s an amazing picture. It’s something that brings us closer together as an agency to have a reminder of what we’ve lost.”

Longmore and his wife, Jenny, were on hand at the portrait’s unveiling and were brought to tears by the portrait of Maya, who had become a family member. They were presented with a digital copy of the portrait. Longmore is working with a new K-9 officer, coincidentally named Jax.  λ