In the wake of the tragic shooting of a Rottweiler in California this past week, this article from Law Enforcement Today seems especially important. It was written last March, but is making the rounds again now after the Rottweiler incident.
By the way, the officers involved in the shooting are now getting death threats against both themselves and their families. While I understand the upset, that’s just taking it too far.
Anyways, the article was written by Jim Gaffney who has served with a metro-New York police department for over 25 years in varying capacities including patrol officer, sergeant, lieutenant, and executive officer. His point is that officers can expect to be sued if they shoot a family dog. He attributes this to the fact that many people consider a dog to be a member of the family rather than simply a pet.
An excerpt: The use of deadly physical force against a dog will not be tolerated unless, as in all shootings, objective reasonableness is established by the totality of circumstances in place at the time of the incident based on the officer’s understanding of the facts. Such an understanding is formed:
• From the perspective of a reasonable officer
• On the scene
• At the moment force was used.
• Without 20/20 hindsight
• In circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving
For those of you who didn’t see the Rottweiler shooting yet, I’m linking to it here. I want you to have to make a conscious effort to see it if you want to, rather than just embedding it here because the end is pretty graphic.
If you watch the video here or have already seen it, I’m interested in your opinion. Was the officer justified in shooting the dog?
This is getting long, but I think it’s an important subject. Here’s a take on the situation from Brimfield Police Department’s Facebook page, from Chief Oliver, whose opinion I respect.
Chief’s Babble…..on the Rottweiler.
I have received lots of messages and emails about the shooting of a Rottweiler by a police officer. Some of you are very passionate for both sides of this argument. I understand both sides and would like to offer some opinion on the incident…as usual. Let’s look at the incident….
• According to the LA Times, The police department was out in force after responding to armed-robbery suspects who had barricaded themselves in a home. The situation could have been deadly and officers needed to secure a perimeter.
•The subject with the dog has a history with that particular department, including being arrested for drugs and domestic violence and also has a current lawsuit against the department.
•Many people in the background could be heard asking what the subject and his dog were doing “so close” to police cars and the operations going on at the residence.
•The subject appears to exchange words with officers, puts his dog in the vehicle with windows down….and then walks up to be handcuffed by officers…as if he wanted to be arrested…perhaps to use as a “retaliation” charge against the department for the ongoing lawsuit. That is an opinion….from experience.
•The Rottweiler jumps from the vehicle, walks towards the officers and subject and then lunges at an officer. The officers shoots and kills the dog.
Most of you know I love dogs. I have had several dogs in my lifetime, including a very nice Rottweiler. I did not like watching this incident, at all. There are places I will not take my dogs, out of just plain old common sense….One of those places would most definitely be to a barricaded subjects call. I would also not show up to a scene involving a police department I was in an active lawsuit with and begin cajoling officers….particularly with my dog in tow. Yes, I know we honor free speech in America; however, rights come with responsibilities.
The incident transpired in less than ten seconds. The officers made a snap decision and will be judged on that decision for some time to come. That’s what this profession is. Also…the officers should have known who they were dealing with and expected this type of behavior. Preparation wins every time.
After watching this and reading many sides of the story, I have to fault of the owner of the dog for most of this drama. Dog ownership is a responsibility, not a status. Would the owner have taken his two-year-old child that close to danger? Dogs are loyal and that is evident by this dog’s response to his owner being arrested. For that loyalty, we owe our four legged friends the same in return.
I know we have our dog lovers on board here. I am one also. Do not be blinded by emotion. Most if not all of you would NOT show up at an active and dangerous police scene, with your dog, to yell at police officers. Many of you watch from the safe and needed distance….and that is the norm.
Many dogs have less than great best friends. Harsh… but very true.….Chief Oliver
Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!