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.
I missed this when it came up last month, but saw it on Twitter today. I will admit that I am impressed. They’re also adding training with dogs to the academy and requiring current officers to complete the training.
Any one of these might come off like a band-aid and a PR move by themselves, but this is a fairly comprehensive overhaul of the way that APD deals with dogs. I suspect that it’s one of the most progressive policies in the country, too. As somebody who’s followed puppycide cases for years and who has recurring nightmares of the police shooting my dog, this is really encouraging.