When Police Learn

Via Radley Balko: Dog shooting prompts police to change policies

Balko’s been in the forefront of getting the public aware of the outrageous amount of puppycide that takes place with law enforcement (and many of these killings are part of routine drug warrant enforcement).

Here’s a rare example where public reaction has resulted in real policy change.

Assistant Police Chief David Carter said a new policy that will go into effect July 1 addresses the options officers have when compelled to use force against dogs.

One of the most significant changes to the policy, Carter said, is that it is more specific on what constitutes a dangerous animal and when an officer can use deadly force against one.

The new policy clarifies that lethal force is authorized if officers decide there is “imminent danger of bodily harm” to themselves or another human, not when a dog is simply acting aggressively, Carter said. It requires a higher level of discretion; the old policy was less specific and said lethal force can be used if an animal is a threat to safety.

The new policy also explains alternatives to deadly force, including yelling at a dog, firing a Taser or using pepper spray.

There are other revisions as well, Carter said. The new policy raises the level of scrutiny on fatal dog shootings. If an officer does use deadly force against a dog, he or she must explain why lesser force was not used, and the incident will be reviewed by the entire chain of command — not just an officer’s sergeant, as is current policy, he said.

“It raises the stature” of dog shootings, Carter said. “We need to be as accountable for the shooting of a dog as any other force.”

They’re also going to institute trainging for cadets on how to handle aggressive dogs without lethal force.

Good news. It would be nice if it was more than just one police department…

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon