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Troopers defend dog-training techniques

Posted April 29, 2008
Updated April 30, 2008

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— Some Highway Patrol troopers on Tuesday supported K-9 training techniques used by a former colleague who was fired last fall after being accused of animal abuse.

Former Sgt. Charles Jones, a 12-year veteran in charge of K-9 training for the Highway Patrol, was fired in September after another trooper turned over two 15-second video clips of him suspending his K-9 partner, Ricoh, from a railing and kicking the dog to force it to release a chew toy.

(Caution: Contents of the video may disturb some viewers.)

Jones has sued to regain his job, saying he was fired only because members of Gov. Mike Easley's office pressured the Highway Patrol to get rid of him. Several other troopers were accused of other offenses at the time, prompting Easley to order an outside review of the agency.

Lt. Col. Cecil Lockley, who signed off on Jones' dismissal, read a statement Tuesday saying he was wrong.

"The decision to fire Sgt. Jones was predetermined not by the patrol's disciplinary process, (but) by an outside entity," Lockley said in the statement.

Meanwhile, Jones' lawyer, Jack O'Hale, claimed the video clips show Jones using training techniques that he had been taught by the Highway Patrol. Ricoh was a particularly aggressive dog that required extra training, O'Hale said.

Other troopers agreed, testifying Tuesday before the state Office of Administrative Hearings – a quasi-judicial agency – that Jones was doing only what was necessary to train the dog.

"Even though it appeared the animal was abused, it was an acceptable technique used by canine handlers, and (Jones) was trained to do that," Lockley said.

"Worse things have happened in the past and been done," Trooper James Pickard said. "You have to have total control over these dogs at all times. If that means kicking him, hitting him, choking him, whatever it takes. It becomes an extreme liability on the side of the road if you cannot control that dog."

Lt. Don Cole described other accepted techniques, such as suspending a dog out of a window when he doesn't obey or forcing a dog onto the ground.

"Ricoh was one of the high-driven dogs. (He was an) alpha dog, just pack leader, wanted to be in charge," Cole said.

Members of other law enforcement agencies said they would never use such techniques to train their K-9s.

"We don't train our animals that way," said Maj. Lucy Zastrow, of the Durham County Sheriff's Office. "I'm not familiar with that technique."

"I've never seen that before. It's not something we do here," said Sgt. Bobby Lane, the K-9 handler for the Chatham County Sheriff's Office.

"It's not something I've ever seen and not something I would think you would do to get a dog to release a toy," said Tracy Bowling of Ventosa Kennels, who trains deputies for Wake and Johnston counties and trains K-9 handlers nationwide.

The Highway Patrol's canine-training manual doesn't specify any methods that are banned or allowed.

Bryan Beatty, secretary of the state Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, testified Monday that Jones' actions were unlike any many trainers with the Highway Patrol had ever seen. Kicking a dog as Jones' did or leaving it suspended was excessive and unacceptable, Beatty said.

A veterinarian examined Ricoh shortly after the training exercise and found the dog wasn't injured. The Highway Patrol removed Ricoh from Jones' care, and the dog has been retired from active duty.


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  • Cheeksgirl Apr 30, 2008

    The State Highway Patrol has a tarnished image right now. I used to look at them with the utmost respect. Now I don't.

  • Calamitous Apr 30, 2008

    Train troopers the same way they train dogs.

  • natecrawler Apr 30, 2008

    ifcdirector don't you know he probably doesn't have more than a basic high school diploma. I mean these LEOs should have something more than a basic education. At least a 2 year degree before they are set loose to enforce laws that they don't even understand. They don't even truly know what rights a citizen has or hasn't. I've observed some basic rights being violated on COPS alone. Think how bad it is when the camera isn't on. They are mostly uneducated bullies looking for someone to take their aggression out on.

  • ifcdirector Apr 30, 2008

    "Son, you really need to brush up on con law. That's all I got to say about that. Have a great day!

    I am not your "Son" nor do I appreciate your condescending term of address however I am not surprised that you are flippant enough to simply call it "Con" law as that pretty much sums up your dubious view of the importance of the Constitution when it comes to doing what you are told regardless of the outcomes or right or wrong. There is no exceptions clause anywhere in the Constitution for any state or local law enforcement agency when it comes to Constitutional rights of citizens. If you don't know that then I would suggest that you are the one in need of very basic schooling but in the meantime just maintain that arrogance and air of superiority all the same. It's nice to know that if it ever came down to it you would be holding the door open to the trains on any future holocaust if that's what someone else told you to do...

  • ifcdirector Apr 30, 2008

    It's so nice to know that there are still other troopers out there armed and on the roads who believe in this sort of behavior enough to defend and endorse it and that the general public can look forward to day to day future interactions with such paragons of justice and good sense too. Frankly, I don't trust any trooper whatsoever. Any law enforcement officer who will cheerfully obey orders to stop me at a checkpoint and trample all over my Constitutional rights and liberties is not worthy of any respect or trust whatsoever. That's a much more important issue than dog abuse too by the way. The fact that they choose to sickeningly abuse animals too is just more sauce for the goose that is the highway patrol in this state.

  • K9_er Apr 30, 2008

    Not only should this guy lose his job, he should be brought up on criminal charges of animal abuse.
    Do you REALLY want this guy pulling you over on a dark night on a lonely road?
    This guy has no moral or ethical consience, the fact he thinks what he did is ok is abhorant.
    I have worked and trained law enforcement dogs in the UK for 20 years, and NEVER would this type of thing be tolerated

  • payh1954 Apr 30, 2008

    If this is what it takes to train a policedog maybe they should do away with the program. Let the law inforcement go back to chasing the crooks the old fashion way, but then they would have to lay off some of those donuts. LOL Any way you look at it, it's animal abuse. If someone did this to me when I was let loose I'd be more aggressive, they would have to shoot me. I hope there are some animal rights activist in that courtroom and I hope they get in behind it

  • chargernut69 Apr 30, 2008

    you know, if he hates working with K-9's so much, why would he want his job back? He might kick a suspect next....

  • Jackstraw23 Apr 30, 2008

    Yeah this is Bunk. If any one in the public would have been taped treating a dog like this coward did they would be in court on animal crulety chargs. But LEO Are some how exempt. I call BS HE should be looking for employment else where not with a animal, maybe he needs to bag groceries for a while and think about the abuse he delivered to his so called best friend. I hope that dog does not have to see this guy again. If he does i hope the dog bite him on his A>>

  • haggis basher Apr 30, 2008

    If the dog was too aggressive than they should have got another dog. The treatment shown in the video is appalling. Your Dog is your friend and partner not your whipped slave.