Calgary police said the officer in a video circulating online was trying to keep control of a police service dog during a containment effort Wednesday evening.
The video of the police activity showed an officer give the dog a kick to its side. They’ve already received formal complaints about the incident.
Calgary Police Service Supt. Ryan Ayliffe apologized to Calgarians for this event and they’re taking the incident seriously.
VIDEO IS BELOW. NOTE: IT MAY BE UPSETTING TO VIEWERS
“This is not why we wanted to be here today, and we are very sorry this happened,” Supt. Ayliffe said.
“We understand the impact it has on the community. And some of the people that just see the video alone, we do understand the impact it’s going to have on them.”
Ayliffe said they had responded to a firearms call that required the police tactical unit and the canine unit. He said the officer had an inside containment point, which is an important communications point close to the crisis area.
“Which is why concealment and cover from fire because of the firearms would have been important. And some of that includes complete silence,” he said.
“The intent was, in this case to silence the police service dog. Because the noise that he was creating was presenting an immediate officer safety concern.”
Review of the incident
Supt. Ayliffe said right now the office and the dog are off shift. They were standing outside intermittently for nearly four-and-a-half hours before the issue could be addressed and reviews by superiors. He said there would be a further debrief with the officer on the incident.
After the review, recommendations will be made.
“The main focus of this is to prevent this from happening again, with this officer and his police service dog, which I’m convinced it will not,” said Supt. Ayliffe.
“But making sure it doesn’t happen again with any of our police service dogs and their handlers.”
Supt. Ayliffe said this isn’t how they train for dog corrections. They train using the leash and using verbal commands. The other option is to remove the dog from the situation. Supt. Ayliffe did say they believe the first attempt to correct the dog was a kick.
The dog has been a member of the canine unit for five years. Supt. Ayliffe said it’s a high-functioning member of the unit and they have no concerns about the dog’s ability to do the job. Supt. Ayliffe also said the officer involved has been with the canine unit for six years and hasn’t shown this kind of behaviour with the animals.
The pair live together every day, he said. They don’t fear for its safety.
“It was a mistake, and I know all of us regret it,” he said.
“So, we’ll do everything we can to prevent it.”