State suspends all HP K-9 operations

April 30, 2008 5:06:26 PM PDT
State officials announced Wednesday afternoon the suspension of all K-9 operations within the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

A video now posted on the Internet has brought international attention to Raleigh. The video shows a then North Carolina Highway patrolman kicking his K-9 partner.

Charles Jones, the trooper in question as fired last year when the video was seen by members of the Governor's staff. Now Jones is asking a judge for his job back. He was moved to tears when asked on stand about Ricoh - the dog in the video.

Jones admits to how bad the video looks, but he will never admit to doing anything to injure the dog he loved. On the stand Wednesday, he had a hard time explaining his feelings about Ricoh to attorney Jack O'Hale. In fact he sobbed and wiped his eyes. After composing himself, Jones told the judge he spent more time with Ricoh than he did with his wife.

"He was the hardest dog the Highway Patrol had, but because of that is what made him special. He, uh, he wouldn't give up," Jones said.

And on the day in question, when Ricoh "wouldn't give up" and let go of his toy on command, Jones suspended the dog from a railing. Jones explained what the video showed. "His feet are on the ground, judge. This is his head."

In the video you can see Jones kicking Ricoh several times before the dog finally let go. One of those times, the dog swings up and under the deck. "That's one quarter of one second, judge, is the amount of time his feet leave the ground," Jones said.

Although the dog was not injured and trainers say this breed requires rough treatment, the video has sparked outrage among animal lovers.

Jones said the breed is a hard dog to train. "We've all acted in an ugly manner training those dogs."

If any of the other procedures used - swinging dogs on chains, throwing them to the ground and other procedures - were shown on camera, there would likely be more outrage against a program the Highway Patrol often touts.

Ricoh's record was one of the best. "It speaks for itself. I mean, you know, ten million in cash and drugs?."

No matter what the judge in this case decides about Jones' fate there is still the question about the fate of the Highway Patrol's K9 program. A program that may come under fire for what some say are abusive training techniques.

The hearing for Jones ended Wednesday afternoon. Although some top brass in Highway Patrol have testified Jones' firing was unjust, politically motivated and did not follow policy, it will be up to the judge to make the final decision.


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