Future of HP K-9 Unit uncertain


While state officials say their futures as troopers is certain, the future of the patrol's /*K-9 Unit*/ is not.

For the second time this week, members of the /*N.C. Highway Patrol*/ K-9 Unit came to Raleigh.

Earlier this week, troopers testifies for Charles Jones, who is trying to get his job back.

Jones was fired as sergeant at the Highway Patrol after a video showing him kicking a K-9 surfaced last summer.

When state officials, including /*Governor Mike Easley*/ saw Jones kicking his dog Ricoh, they terminated him.

This week when officials heard other K-9 troopers testify that they too are rough with their dogs in training, they suspended the program and called Thursday's meeting.

"We want to make sure people understand exactly what is and is not acceptable," said Secretary Bryan Beatty, /*N.C. Crime Control and Public Safety*/.

The ten members of the K-9 Unit will continue to keep their dogs at their homes while the program is reviewed. But any rough treatment of the dogs is forbidden.

"The various things we heard in the courtroom are not acceptable; kicking, beating, choking, hanging, that, you know, the process of helicoptering," Beatty said.

Helicoptering, according to the testimony of dog handlers, is spinning a dog off the ground by a choke chain.

Despite a new $200,000 kennel and training facility in Raleigh, state officials have threatened to end the K-9 program if it can't be done humanely.

They say the handlers all have jobs, no matter the fate of the K-9 program.

Some of these handlers said off camera they don't believe this move is retaliation for their testimony, but they deferred to their captain for an on camera comment.

"Nobody's been threatened. Nobody's threatened retaliation against us," said Captain Steve Briggs, N.C. Highway Patrol. " And everybody has their job."

One of the handlers at Thursday's meeting has adopted the now retired Ricoh, the dog in the video.

State officials say he's well cared for.

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