July 10, 2017 10:18 PM
Minneapolis police chief Janeé Harteau has issued a statement after an officer responding to a burglary alarm shot two dogs in the backyard of a north Minneapolis home Saturday evening.
”I’ve watched the video, and as someone whose family has included dogs most of my life, I can say that it was difficult to watch," Harteau said in a statement. "This was an outcome that no one wanted. I’ve asked for an Internal Affairs use of force review. We are reaching out to the family to help them with the veterinary care bills to ensure that both dogs are adequately taken care of.
"To help us prevent similar outcomes in the future, we will be implementing updated mandatory training specifically for officers identifying effective tools and tactical strategies with police and dog encounters. We want both our officers and all our community members to be safe.”
Mylan Masson agreed. She's a retired police officer who spent two decades teaching prospective officers about how to deal with animals.
"There is very little training, it's mostly verbal," she said. "There needs to be more."
The police department acknowledged that until now there was no protocol for how officers should deal with animals at a scene. The department has identified what it's calling imminent changes in training and procedures.
Both dogs survived Saturday's shootings, and one remained at an emergency veterinary clinic with serious injuries Sunday afternoon. He went home Sunday night. The other needs jaw surgery.
The shooting occurred on the 3800 block of Queen Avenue North at Jennifer LeMay's home.
LeMay has two pit bulls named Ciroc and Rocko. She says they are physician-prescribed service animals for two of her children.
One of her kids accidentally set off the family's home security system at about 8:50 p.m. Saturday night. LeMay said that by 8:54 p.m., Xfinity had deactivated the alert.
At 9:15 p.m., LeMay said, MPD officers can be seen on surveillance cameras approaching her home. One officer was in the front yard while a second officer went around the back of the home. That second officer can be seen jumping over a 7-foot-tall privacy fence into LeMay's backyard.
The footage shows the officer looking around as one dog, Ciroc, runs out into the yard, followed by the second dog, Rocko. The dogs appear on camera to be wagging their tails. The dogs stopped a few feet short of the officer, who drew his gun. The security camera rolled as one dog turned away and was shot. The second dog was then shot multiple times.
Both dogs face months of recovery.
Confrontations with canines can happen often in the line of duty, because officers never know what they're running into, according to a U.S. Department of Justice study that shows 25 dogs a day nationwide are shot by officers. That amounts to 10,000 a year.
The report also shows it's difficult to track the exact number of dogs shot because agencies don't keep the numbers. The document concludes the safety of others is put at risk when an officer fires because stray bullets could hit bystanders or even fellow officers.
The DOJ says law enforcement agencies need animal encounter policies that include making sure an animal control officer is at the scene, providing better dog behavior training, and finding ways to use items readily available in squad cars, such as flashlights, clipboards and road flares.
Updated: July 10, 2017 10:18 PM
Created: July 10, 2017 03:01 PM
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