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Salisbury Police Statement Regarding K9 Officer Training 3-2-2021

The health, safety and well-being of Salisbury Police officers, human and canine, is our top priority.

The Salisbury Police Department is aware of the video that has been provided to the media depicting a Salisbury officer during canine training but cannot comment in detail because it is an ongoing personnel matter. In accordance with policy, SPD’s review of and response to this matter is and will continue to be thorough and fair so as to provide due process to everyone involved. SPD can confirm that, as a matter of course, the officer has been administratively separated from the canine while SPD conducts its review. The canine was not harmed and is healthy and being well-cared-for.

To ensure integrity of the investigation of this matter an outside agency has been charged with leading the inquiry. This agency is interviewing and reviewing the matter with identified experts in handling canines, including former handlers with other police departments, an owner of a police canine training firm, and internal K9 supervisory staff. While the matter is not complete, it has been determined no Taser was used on the dog at any point by anyone. Any allegation that this occurred is false.

It is important to understand that a police canine is trained to use force against criminal suspects and a handler must ensure they have complete control over the dog at all times so that any use of the canine in the field is appropriate and lawful. When a canine is noncompliant with the handler’s commands, the handler is trained to correct the dog. Canine training tactics and corrective measures can sometimes be alarming out of context. SPD cannot and will not comment about whether the training tactics used in the video were appropriate, because that is still being reviewed. As part of this review we are ensuring our policy, procedures, and training we provide our handlers is appropriate. Again, SPD’s top priority is the health, safety, and well-being of its human and canine officers. The canine involved in this matter is safe, has suffered no effects from this incident, and the officer in this matter will be treated fairly in accordance with SPD policy.

SPD Chief Stokes would request the public allow the police department’s internal review of this matter to finish before drawing any conclusions.

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