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K9 apprehension program suspended
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Salt Lake City officials suspend K9 apprehension program indefinitely

Photo: Morgan Wolfe, KSL TV

SALT LAKE CITY– Salt Lake City Police Chief, Mike Brown, announced the K9 apprehension program will be suspended indefinitely on Friday. The program was already suspended following an investigation into a police dog attack a man who was being arrested. 

 

Within the last two years, SLCPD has counted 27 K9 bites, 18 of those are being referred for criminal investigation. 

“Those cases have been referred to the District Attorney’s Office, the department’s Internal Affairs Unit and the Civilian Review Board,” he says.

According to Brown, there are nine dog bite incidents from 2020 that need review, five from 2019 and four from 2018.  He says the department will look over every single dog bite incident within the department over the past four years.

Brown says, “As a department, we recognize that when trust is lost, it requires more hard work to get it back.”

 

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall praised Brown, calling him the only police chief she knows that is looking at past cases of abuse of power to see what went wrong.  She says officers who abuse their power not only hurt members of the community, but they tarnish the reputations of good police officers who are trying to work in a fair and transparent way.

“Our city’s referral for investigation of 18 K9 cases from the past two years represents our concern that what has gone on in the Salt Lake City Police Department’s K9 Apprehension Program is a pattern of abuse of power,” she says.

While the K9 Apprehension Program is suspended indefinitely, Mendenhall isn’t ready to terminate the program completely, saying she needs to study the matter further.  However, she says recent changes that have happened within the department will make things better.

“I’m confident that no use of force will ever go unreported to the appropriate chain of command, again,” says Mendenhall.

The Salt Lake County District Attorneys Office has filed aggravated assault charges against an officer, who is accused of commanding his K9 to bite a Black man, Jeffery Ryans, who at the time of the biting had his hands in the air. 

District Attorney Sim Gill issued a statement, reading, in part…

“We will review all materials provided to our office in connection with our records request and we will act as appropriate and necessary to fulfill and perform our statutory duties consistent with the law. This means carefully reviewing and investigating allegations of criminal conduct consistent with our role as public prosecutors. The DA Office will file charges on any case that rise to the level of criminal activity.

“I want to thank Mayor Mendenhall and Chief Brown for their efforts to be transparent and to take affirmative steps in the service of justice.”