POST discusses officer training for dog encounters

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SANDY, Utah -- Discussion about how officers should treat dogs during encounters was a topic during the quarterly Peace Officer Standards and Training Council Monday.

Last June a Salt Lake City police officer went into a backyard and encountered a Weimeraner named Geist.

The officer said he felt threatened and shot and killed Geist. The dog's death triggered large rallies asking for change.

Since then police agencies have met with the Humane Society and other groups about how to deal with dogs.

"We see a need with officers being able to identify when a dog appears to be aggressive. How do we preemptively avoid that situation, looking over the fence to see if there's chew toys, a dog bowl," said Scott Stephenson, POST director.

Stephenson said officers will make every effort to avoid injuring a dog, but say no matter how hard they try sometimes an officer will have to stop an aggressive dog if he fears for his life and safety.

Geist’s owner Sean Kendall released this statement:

"I'm pleased to know that Utah POST has taken the first step to protect their officers and community members by introducing animal encounter training into training curriculum. This training unfortunately didn't come soon enough to protect Geist but I hope it will prevent another terrible tragedy."

4 comments

  • David Whittington

    “Stephenson said officers will make every effort to avoid injuring a dog, but say no matter how hard they try sometimes an officer will have to stop an aggressive dog if he fears for his life.”
    When is the last time a dog actually KILLED a cop ? Ummm … that would be NEVER. Mailmen get bitten by dogs every day, but do Mailmen SHOOT and kill the aggressive dogs ? Cops shoot dogs. Mailmen don’t shoot dogs. Are Mailmen tougher and braver than Cops ? Geist the dog might have eventually bitten the cop who entered his yard, but so what ? Geist just wanted the cop to leave the property. The murder of Geist by cops inside a fence in his own yard is simply inexcusable.

    • bob

      Are you serious? A $35K per year flatfoot has to accept being mauled by dogs?

      What bothers me isn’t the shooting so much as the fact that the cop was illegally trespassing. We’re all just supposed to accept THAT part. He could easily see, by looking through the fence, that the missing child was not in the yard. He was fence-hopping for no legally legitimate reason.

      The rules exist as much to protect cops as to protect the public. Cops do NOT have a right to go wherever they choose, whenever they choose, however noble the cause.

      And in the end their time would have been better spent searching the child’s HOME, where she was asleep in the basement the whole time, instead of trespassing all over the place. There are ALWAYS children missing. If a missing child is an excuse to trespass without a warrant then there is no point to having warrants at all.

    • C'MON DAVID WHITTINGTON

      David says: “When is the last time a dog actually KILLED a cop ? Ummm … that would be NEVER”. There’s an obvious reason David. That’s because officers carry firearms and won’t hesitate to shoot the aggressive animal.

      Only a blithering idot would expect a policeman to stand there a let a pitbull gnaw on his let.

      • Nick Barone

        Geist wasn’t a pit bull. Neither was Arfee, shot through a closed window. Neither were the many that have been shot when the police trespass in pursuit of a theft from the Dollar Tree (yup, really happened). We have enough ignorance going on in this country right now without a contribution from Bob and yourself.

        BTW, I DO have a pit bull and she is the least dangerous dog there is. So go find some other fairy story to sell ’cause we ain’t buying that one.

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