Patrol puts leash on K-9 program

December 8, 2008 4:09:01 PM PST
The North Carolina Highway Patrol suspended its canine program earlier this year after a shocking cell phone video showed an officer kicking his dog during a training session.Now, state officials say the canine program is being disbanded and rebuilt from the ground up.

Back in May, a video showing Trooper Charles Jones kicking his dog Ricoh was made public. During a hearing, other troopers testified that dogs were often shocked with collars and stun guns by other officers during training.

Jones, a 13-year veteran, was fired after an investigation. He was given his job back under a ruling by the State Personnel Commission. That decision is being appealed by the public safety department.

Monday, Department of Crime Control and Public Safety Secretary Bryan Beatty and North Carolina State Highway Patrol Commander Colonel Walter J. Wilson, Jr., announced that the canine program will no longer use aggressive dogs. Labrador Retrievers will be used instead.

The dogs will only be used in narcotics detection and there will be a strict policy prohibiting the mistreatment of the dogs.

“The Highway Patrol’s canine program has proven to be effective in interdicting drug trafficking on our highways and that important work needs to continue," said Beatty in a statement released to the media. "I ordered the review of our Highway Patrol Canine Unit to identify areas which needed improvement and draw upon best practices of other statewide law enforcement agencies.”

Here's the full list of changes:

  • Discontinue use of aggressive canines and change the mission from multi-tasked canines to canines trained only in narcotics detection.
  • Selected a new canine training supervisor who has successfully completed the United States Customs and Border Protection Instructor Canine Training Class.
  • Use passive alert canines as the Highway Patrol’s police work dog; more specifically Labrador Retrievers. Labradors by nature are non-aggressive canines and have a well respected reputation as excellent narcotics detection canines.
  • The new program will be staffed with newly selected and trained canine handlers.
  • The new Highway Patrol Canine Policy expressly prohibits any mistreatment of canines.
  • The Highway Patrol will adopt the United States Customs and Border Protection Canine Program curriculum and training techniques to train and certify all Highway Patrol canine handlers.

“We are in the process of restructuring and rebuilding our canine program,” said Patrol Commander Col. Walter J. Wilson, Jr. “I’m confident that once these changes are implemented we will have one of the best canine programs in the nation.”


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