LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Twice in six months in 2016, Beauregard Sheriff’s Deputies used deadly force against dogs the owners say were on private property.
Lawsuits were settled and part of the agreement was for deputies to receive specialized training to prevent unnecessary lethal force.
Retired lieutenant Jim Crosby, from Florida, is a police officer and dog behavior expert. He’s holding the training in Beauregard Parish.
Crosby teaches officers how to recognize what dogs are trying to say before an officer kills a beloved pet.
“What we want to do is to break dog behavior down into clear units that a law enforcement officer can use to quickly evaluate a situation, and tell the difference between a real threat and, for instance, a frightened dog,” said Crosby.
He is there as a resource for the Beauregard Sheriff’s Office to equip deputies to better handle such situations.
“It’s actually a very rare occasion that deadly force is the only option. No police officer in the United States has been killed by a dog attack since 1936. So, 85 years. Humans are much more a threat to officers than pets are,” said Crosby.
The training is part of the settlement of two lawsuits in which dogs were killed.
Attorney Alyson Antoon says the lethal force could have been avoided.
“The most important thing is just to prevent something like this from happening again. Anything we can do to prevent another tragic incident is the goal. A dog’s not just like regular piece of property. It’s not a car or a bike. It’s a living, breathing thing that most people consider to be family members. And so, the killing of a pet dog can be devastating,” she said.
Warden Jeanne Irvine says they appreciate having more tools to respond to situations involving dogs.
“I think it’s very important that we don’t harm people’s pets because I know I treasure my dogs and I’m sure everybody else feels the same,” said Irvine.
Crosby showed various incidents caught on dash cams around the country.
“For these dogs," he says, show a picture of several small pooches, "The biggest thing you’re going to have to worry about is whether you’re going to get muddy paw prints on your uniform.”
He says it's key for officers to think situations through to prevent them from escalating out of control.
The training continues on Wednesday.
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