Phoenix officer dies from autoimmune diseases after 20 years of service

Denham was a K-9 Officer and worked with the K-9 Hera at the airport bureau.
Published: Feb. 16, 2023 at 5:01 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Phoenix police are mourning the loss of one of their own after a veteran airport officer and K-9 handler passed away last week.

Officer Ben Denham, a 20-year veteran of the department, suffered from a rare combination of autoimmune diseases and died last week. Denham was a K-9 Officer and worked with the K-9 Hera at the airport bureau. “He not only treated her as a partner, that was his family,” said Denham’s wife, Debbie.

Things took a turn for the worse in 2016 when his autoimmune diseases flared up. The disease polymyositis ravaged his body. The father of seven received life-saving treatments between shifts, his body hurt so much that he slept in a chair, but he didn’t stop working. His wife of 27 years was by his side through it all. “It was heartbreaking; he wanted to serve the community, he wanted to help his family, I supported him day and night, and I was his silent partner,” said Debbie.

Despite the pain Denham was in, he had one last goal: to make it to 20 years as a Phoenix Police Officer; he wanted to make sure his family received the benefits after he was gone. “He was the type of person to always be there, to always fight, to be present no matter how much pain he’s in. He never complained,” said Denham.

Denham passed away on February 8th, 2023, three months after his 20-year-anniversary. “He said, ‘Debbie, I made a deal with God; if I can make it to 20 years, then I’m ok,” said Debbie. “I told him when he was in the hospital this time, I said, ‘if I can be the one in that bed, I would because you have so much to live for’ and he looked at me and said, ‘i know but you have so much to live for too’”

If you would like to help his family, click here.