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Police dog bites suspected Utah school burglar


By Harry Stevens

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Jul 30 2014 05:29PM
Updated Jul 30, 2014 06:47PM

A man who police say was stealing technology equipment from a West Valley City elementary school, had his ear nearly bitten off by a police dog Wednesday when he refused to surrender.

Granite School District Police dispatchers were alerted to the alleged burglary at Pioneer Elementary School, 3860 S. 3380 West, when an alarm was tripped at about 2:00 a.m., said school district spokesman Ben Horsley.

The school’s security system enabled dispatchers to listen in on two men, aged 26 and 18, discussing the alleged burglary inside of the school, and dispatchers alerted West Valley City Police, Horsley said.

"I’m happy to brag about our alarm system," Horsley said, adding that dispatchers’ ability to hear what’s happening is helpful when crimes are taking place at night and buildings are dark.

West Valley City police brought dogs to the scene. They searched the school’s main building and, finding it empty, went to investigate a portable classroom, where the suspects were found hiding under stacked desks, according to an officer’s report supplied by Horsley.

The suspects had allegedly gathered technology equipment in the room. "They were clearly planning on taking it," Horsley said.

Police ordered the suspects to surrender and threatened to use the dogs to subdue them if they refused. When the suspects failed to respond, officers released a dog, who bit the 26-year-old suspect’s ear and arm. The 18-year-old suspect was arrested without incident, Horsley said.

The bitten man was taken to Intermountain Medical Center, where doctors performed surgery to reattach his ear, Horsley said. West Valley City Police spokesman Roxeanne Vainuku said department protocol dictates that anyone bitten by a police dog must be cleared by a physician before being booked into jail.

A 32-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of obstruction of justice in connection to the alleged burglary, Vainuku said.

Police say they found the woman in a vehicle parked near the school. When questioned at the scene, the woman allegedly told police she knew nothing of the burglary and they allowed her to leave, but investigators later determined that she knew at least one of the other suspects, Vainuku said.

When police re-contacted the female suspect at home, she allegedly lied to them again.

The Granite School District has a 16-member police force that oversees 300 square miles in central Salt Lake County. School district police officers are on duty at night, but dispatchers regularly call allied local law enforcement agencies after alarms are tripped at night, Horsley said.

hstevens@sltrib.com

Twitter: @Harry_Stevens

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