All Minneapolis police officers are now required to complete a two-day “dog sensitivity” training to prevent the use of lethal force on hostile animals.
According to a report from WCCO, all 900 officers in the Minneapolis Police Department are mandated to participate in the two-day sessions. Dog trainer Steffen Baldwin told the outlet that the goal of the training is to provide officers with “a few more tools in their tool belt so they can think when they see a dog.”
“Maybe take a few seconds to analyze the body language and figure out what type of aggression it is and then come up with a different response,” he said.
Lt. Johnny Mercil said he hopes the training will prevent some of the “high-profile” incidents the department has experienced in recent years. In 2017, for instance, an officer was placed under investigation after he shot and wounded two dogs in a residential backyard. The officer was responding to a false security alarm call and was widely criticized for his actions.
“Police officers have to go to a lot of scenes. Often times the dogs are chaotic, they feed off the emotions of their owners. They’ve got certain traits that get amped up when we show up,” said Mercil.
The Minneapolis Police Department’s policy on “use of force” states that a remote restraint device “should not be deployed against an animal as part of a plan to deal with a potentially dangerous animal, such as a dog.”
“This device was not intended for use against animals,” the policy states. “However, if the animal reasonably appears to pose an imminent threat to human safety and alternative methods are not reasonably available or would likely be ineffective the remote restraint device may be deployed to protect against harm to suspects, subjects and officers.”
In December, Minneapolis law enforcement officers were required to sit in on a training about the “infinite number” of gender pronouns, a source told The Minnesota Sun at the time. The lecture was part of the department’s annual in-service training and participation was mandatory.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey banned officers from participating in the controversial “Street Survival Seminar” in a policy announced in April. Under the policy, officers who wish to participate in any training related to use of force must first submit the course for approval from Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Minneapolis Police Officer” by Minneapolis Police Department.