Significant Changes Being Made to K-9 Unit in St. Paul

July 09, 2018 10:34 PM

On Monday, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and Police Chief Todd Axtell announced significant changes to the St. Paul Police Department K-9 Unit aimed at ensuring that K-9's are working in the best interest of the city and public safety.

According to St. Paul Police, the unit, in addition, will undergo an external audit examining its policy, practices and training. This announcement comes after a man was accidentally bitten by a K-9 while officers were responding to a weapons call last Friday, July 6. 

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St. Paul Police identified that man as Glenn Lonee Slaughter, 33, who told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he was not as much "frightened" by the unexpected attack of the K-9 officer as we was "in shock."

"I just remember lying on the ground after police told me to get down on the ground while they searched for a guy with a weapon," Slaughter said. "Then, I remember hearing an officer say 'no' and the next thing I know the dog is on me kind of at my back first and then just gnawing at my arm and the other officers were trying to get him to let go, but it took about 30 seconds, or more, for that to happen."

Slaughter said he did not suffer any broken bones and no stitches were required to fix the puncture wounds from the attack, but he said it is a moment he will not forget anytime soon.

"I was just thinking 'how in the hell does this happen to me and how does a police dog get off its leash and end up on top of me biting me and stuff'," Slaughter said.

"Last week's incident involving a St. Paul police K-9 is very disturbing, especially viewed in the context of other events that have occurred over the past two years," Carter said in a release Monday. "I am working with Chief Axtell to implement a set of temporary restrictions on deployment of police dogs, effective immediately, until a full audit can be completed."

The temporary restrictions bar deployment of police dogs, except in specific circumstances that pose a clear and immediate danger to officers or residents. 

"Our K-9 Unit has served us well since it was established in 1958, but the mayor and I agree that we need to be sure we're doing everything possible to deploy police dogs in the safest manner possible," Axtell said in a release. "Our goal is to determine what is working, what we can improve and how we minimize risk to the people we serve as well as officers."

The accidental dog bite occurred on the 900 block of 4th Street East at about 2 a.m. Friday. Slaughter was not involved in the incident, but had been directed by officers to lie on the ground as they searched for the suspect, who had fled. As the K-9 officer approached the scene to search for the suspect, his dog's collar broke and the dog ran to and bit the man on his forearm. 

The officer removed the dog from the man who was bitten, but it took about 30 seconds. Once the man was free from the dog, the officer took him to a safe area, apologized and called for St. Paul Fire medics, who determined he did not need to be transported to a hospital. The case remains under investigation. 

RELATED: Lawyers Argue St. Paul Police K-9 Bite Lawsuit

In response to the incident, the department has placed a set of temporary restrictions on the K-9 unit. The restrictions increase oversight for the unit, reduce the instances when K-9s can be deployed and refine the role of K-9 officers. 


K-9 Restrictions as of July 9 (St. Paul Police)

  • A full-time commander has been assigned to the unit.
  • An immediate assessment focused on K-9 teams' control, recall and release abilities will be conducted-- and the assessments will continue twice a month, indefinitely.
  • K-9 teams that do not meet control, recall and release standards will be removed from patrol.
  • K-9 officers will be required to physically inspect all equipment on camera prior to their shifts.
  • K-9s will be required to work on shorter leads
  • Command approval is required for any canine deployment that does not involve instances where a suspect's actions are likely to result in death or serious bodily harm-- or K-9 apprehensions that do not involve people suspected of murder, manslaughter, aggravated robbery in the first degree, kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct or drive-by shootings.

The city of St. Paul will engage an outside expert to conduct an audit of the K-9 unit. The audit will be paid by the City to review every aspect of the unit to ensure that officers and K-9s are working in the best interest of the city. Axtell added nothing will be off limits in the audit, which he hopes will begin within the month. 

Credits

Tommy Wiita/Jay Kolls

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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