SALISBURY, N.C. (WBTV) - Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes says there is an internal investigation underway at the department after a video showed what some believed was mistreatment of a Salisbury Police K-9.
“The health and safety and well-being of Salisbury Police officers, both human and K-9, is our top priority,” Stokes said. “The Salisbury Police Department is aware of a video that has been provided to the media that depicts a Salisbury officer during a K-9 training, but we cannot comment on the details because it is an ongoing personnel matter.”
Chief Stokes did say that the officer and the K-9 were no longer working together.
“SPD can confirm that as a matter of course, the officer has been administratively separated from the K-9 while SPD conducts the review,” Chief Stokes said.
During a press conference on Tuesday, K-9 Zuul was standing behind Chief Stokes with another officer.
“The K-9 was not harmed and is healthy and being well-cared for,” Stokes added. “To insure the integrity of this investigation of this matter, an outside agency has been charged with leading the inquiry.”
*WARNING THIS VIDEO MAY BE GRAPHIC FOR SOME, VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED*
Experts in police K-9 handling are being interviewed as part of the investigation.
“It is important to understand that police K-9s are trained to use force against criminal suspects and the handler must insure that they have complete control over the dog at all times so that any use of the K-9 in the field is appropriate and lawful,” Chief Stokes added. “When a K-9 is non-compliant with the handler’s commands, the handler is trained to correct the dog. K-9 training tactics and corrective measures can sometimes be alarming when provided out of context. SPD cannot and will not comment on whether the training tactics used in the video were appropriate because it’s still being reviewed.”
Chief Stokes said that the policy regarding handlers is also being reviewed.
“The K-9 involved in this matter is safe,” Stokes said, “has suffered no effects from this incident and the officer will be treated fairly and in accordance with our policy.”
Chief Stokes requested that the public draw no conclusion until the internal review of the matter is finished.
The Salisbury Police Department currently has five K-9 officers, including Zuul. Zuul is four years old and has been with SPD since 2018.