Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Marchers carried a portrait of Geist. Hundreds of supporters of Sean Kendall and his dog, Geist, who was shot and killed in his backyard by a Salt Lake City police officer during a search for a missing child, rally to protest the officer's action, Saturday, June 28, 2014 at the SLC Police headquarters.
Editorial: Dealing with animals an apparent gap in police training

SLCPD needs animal training.

First Published Jun 27 2014 03:47 pm • Last Updated Jun 30 2014 09:35 am

American police departments these days are professional, trained, lawyered-up and steeped in protocol and procedure. Among the leaders in that trend has been the Salt Lake City Police Department, justly praised for, among other things, its peaceful handling of such potentially explosive events as the Occupy Salt Lake protest.

Thus it seems more than just sad that a local police officer apparently felt the need to shoot and kill a dog that was doing nothing more offensive than sitting in its own backyard when the officer entered in search of a missing child.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

It is the apparent lack of training as to what an officer should do when confronted by a potentially hostile animal that seems out of character for a state-of-the-art police department.

It is also unfortunate that a police chief as tuned in to the human condition as Chris Burbank seems to be is surprised that so many people have reacted so viscerally to the incident, to the point of sending hate-filled and threatening messages to the officer involved. And to another uninvolved officer with a similar name.

Such threats are, as the chief says, inappropriate and unworthy. He is correct to ask for some public patience as the incident is under internal review.

But the owner of the dog is not the only one who is livid and demanding that the officer who killed the dog be fired.

The owner, Sean Kendall, argues that it was unlikely that the missing 3 year old — later found in his own home — could have found his way into a yard with such a high fence. Perhaps. But police know that time is their enemy in any search for a missing child, and are likely to err on the side of overreach in such matters.

But Kendall is on firmer ground in insisting that there must have been a way for the officer to subdue — or retreat from — the beloved pet rather than instantly reach for the most lethal option available. He further takes issue with any suggestion that his dog, Geist, was of no more value than a gate or piece of furniture that the police could pay to replace.

Animal experts, such as those from the Humane Society of Utah, agree that there is generally a non-violent way for officers, and anyone else who finds himself face-to-face with a dog instinctively defending its territory, to resolve the situation.

There’s really not much more the police can do for Kendall and his canine friend. But they can get serious about some across-the-board training that might ensure that the sad outcome is not repeated.


story continues below
story continues below



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.