Candidates for county sheriff discuss specialized canine training for cops

Posted at 7:07 PM, Oct 12, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-12 23:45:51-04

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah -- All Unified Police Department officers will soon be trained on how to deal with dogs while in the field.

It's become a hotly debated issue in Utah and a talking point in the Salt Lake County Sheriff's race.

Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder wants to make the training mandatory.

"We are committed to, as we move forward, we treat animals as they should be as members of individuals families," Winder said.

Winder said the idea came up after a Salt Lake City police officer shot and killed a dog in a fenced yard, while searching for a missing child.

“I think this incident in one way may have a very positive effect, in that it started a conversation, of 'Hey, wait a minute, we want this treated in a different way,'" Winder said. "And now I think it's important that we move forward in that conversation."

Jake Petersen, Executive Officer of Special Operations with the Unified Police Department and a candidate for Salt Lake County Sheriff, said officers need to show the community they respect their rights, their property and their animals.

“I believe in training very very much," he said. "But when I look at this issue, I see this as a compassion issue. I see this as the public not knowing how compassionate their local patrol officer is."

The Humane Society of Utah pushed for the training, saying it would like to see Salt Lake City and other agencies take part.

“Hopefully what it will do is open the door for other law enforcement agencies and police departments throughout the state of Utah to offer enhanced training,” said Gene Baierschmidt, who is director of the Humane Society Utah.

Sheriff Winder said the mandatory training would be added to the already required 40 hours of training for every officer.

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