Carter said that in the aftermath of the shooting, police officials are reviewing “every aspect of the incident,” including the 911 call and how dispatchers responded to it, the officer’s tactics, and what happened afterward. Carter said the department is also examining its policies and training when it comes to officers who encounter animals.
“Is our policy sufficient? Is our training sufficient when dealing with dangerous animals or dogs?” Carter said.
This’ll probably be my last post about this. Two comments:
1) If this is actually happens, and APD really does institute new training to help police officers deal with dogs, they’ll be one of the first police departments in the country to actually take this seriously. As of a couple years ago, New York was the only state that mandated any sort of training for police on how to deal with dogs, and that was just in the academy. I’ve been cynical about this from the beginning, because almost universally, when this happens, the police response is that the officer was doing everything necessary to protect himself and acted within protocol. If this isn’t just some introspective lip-service by APD, this would be a good first step.
2) I’ve seen people comment — on Twitter and Tumblr and Facebook, and on most of the stories that have been posted in various outlets — that there’s something wrong about the fact that all of this outcry happens over a dog, but people have been largely silent over the people APD has shot recently. And that’s a fair point to some extent, but it misses the fact thatthere is outcry about police violence and now APD is reviewing shooting policies.
Much like we require “perfect” rape victims to pass a battery of character assassination tests before we deem what happened to them worthy of consideration, we require that anyone who was in an altercation with the police be proven beyond the shadow of a doubt to have committed no crimes in his or her life and to have been 100% innocent of any possible crime before we will even considerthe possibility that the police may have acted improperly. I mean, Trayvon Martin was innocent, he wasn’t even shot by a cop, and people were stilldragging his Facebook photos and the fact that he may have been suspended from school once out as proof that he was probably guilty of something.
In other words, there are very few “perfect” victims of police brutality. But almost every dog* — especially a sweet-looking blue heeler — is innocent. We know that it’s not a criminal, that it doesn’t have malice in its heart. It’s a dog. It plays fetch and likes to be petted.
Stories like that of Cisco are what illustrate the fallibility of police, and their ability to respond rashly, to make poor and/or cruel decisions, and to attack someone who doesn’t deserve it. Because right now, the notion that the police are infallible is damn near the settled law of the land. Any time you get people to question that, it bodes well for the hope that the next person who is shot will receive some justice. And ifthathappens, then maybe people stop getting shot so much.
It’s a slow process, reminding everyone that police are people and, by their nature, fallible and capable of possessing any number of human flaws. (It doesn’t mean that you hate the police and would rather call a criminal next time you’re in trouble, if you recognize that.) The “perfect” victim of a police firing his weapon rashly might be a dog, but cracking the myth of police infallibility means we might not need perfect victims in the future.
It’s a hope, anyway.
(*”Almost every dog” means that, historically, every time the police shoot a dog, it gets written down in the report as a rottweiler, if it’s black, or a pit bull, if it’s not. Dogs that don’t fit either description occasionally become German shepherds.)