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Panel orders fired K-9 trooper be reinstated

Posted October 17, 2008
Updated October 20, 2008

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— A state commission has ordered the Highway Patrol to reinstate a trooper who was fired more than a year ago for roughly treating his K-9 partner, according to Crime Control and Public Safety Secretary Bryan Beatty.

Beatty said Friday that he had received the State Personnel Commission's order to reinstate Charles Jones. Beatty upheld Jones' dismissal in September 2007, but a state administrative law judge ruled that his firing violated the patrol's personnel policies.

Another trooper turned over two 15-second video clips of Jones suspending his dog, Ricoh, from a railing and kicking the dog repeatedly to force it to release a chew toy.

The commission found that the patrol did not have "just cause to dismiss for unacceptable personal conduct;" however, it did find "sufficient cause for discipline for unsatisfactory job performance," Beatty said.

Beatty expressed his disagreement with the decision and said that patrol leaders will consult with the state Attorney General's Office to decide about an appeal to the state Superior Court.

“We feel we made the right decision concerning Trooper Jones," Capt. Everett Clendenin, a spokesman for the Highway Patrol, said.

The Police Benevolent Association, however, supports the commission's decision, officials said.

"We're very pleased with the decision," John Midgett, an association officer, said. "We're pleased that the commission followed the law."

Midgett said the association has started looking into civil litigation against those it believes violated personnel laws.

Jones petitioned to get his job back, alleging that he was fired without just cause – "higher powers" ordered Beatty to fire him – and that proper procedures were not followed.

”The decision is correct in accordance with the over-whelming evidence and the state law. I am dismayed with the Highway Patrol and the rush to judgment in the case of my client,” Jones’ attorney, Jack O’Hale, said in a statement Friday.

Patrol leaders have argued that Jones, who coordinated training for the force's K-9 unit, crossed the line from training to abuse and acted in a way inconsistent with his own training.

In June, Judge Fred Morrison said that public outcry from the cell-phone video resulted in political pressure from Gov. Mike Easley’s office to fire Jones.

The Highway Patrol has denied that political pressure played any role in firing Jones.

Morris' recommendation that Jones get his job back sent the matter to the State Personnel Commission, which held hearings in August.

The state suspended the patrol's K-9 program in April until its training manual could be reviewed and revised.

Jones has since worked as a police officer in Apex. The State Bureau of Investigation reviewed the videos, but no criminal charges have been filed against Jones.

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  • Kristen168 Oct 17, 2008

    I am grieved by this decision, and grieved at the number of people would write that they think such Gestapo tactics on man or animal are okay. It is cold to think animals don't feel, don't have a right to feel, can be treated any way the master sees fit. Just because he is a police dog it is acceptable exert torture on him? If the Patrol feels that this is the only way to train dogs, then they shouldn't use them. It's no better than fighting dogs. I and others will never accept this as proper in any sense.

  • news4u Oct 17, 2008

    Ain't over 'til it's over!

  • pattip574 Oct 17, 2008

    Very odd that this turned out the way it did.. had he not been a police officer, I bet animal cruelty charges would have been filed. There is never an excuse for the treatment this dog recieved.

  • Adelinthe Oct 17, 2008

    superdad -

    I understand what you're saying, but abortion is not a part of this story, and furthermore, whether we like it or not, abortion is legal in this country while kicking an animal is not.

    Yeah, it's crazy for sure, but the best we can do is pray for God's will in the abortion issue. The lawmakers have taken everything else out of our hands, but have allowed us personal prayer, for now.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • GulfWarVet Oct 17, 2008

    Booooooooooooooooooooooooo! I now turn my back.

  • superdad412 Oct 17, 2008

    Finally! Someone gets justice. Congratulations Trooper Jones.... Great job!

    It's amazing to me how a few kicks to a trained attack dog cost this man his career, and put him in the center of a criminal investigation, all while taking a beating from the media and the public? While this was taking place... in abortion clinics all around this city babies were/are being murdered and it's perfectly legal... all because someone finds pregnancy to be an inconvenience. Well Trooper Jones found that dog to be a threat because he disobeyed and this, he kicked the tar out of him, but he didn't kill him.

    I am totally miffed as to how some folks can dehumanize a human fetus to an inconvenience, yet view a canine (subservient to mankind) as having "rights" that must be protected in a court of law. Where have the sensible priorities of our society gone? Oh yeah... to the DOGS!

  • The Fox Oct 17, 2008

    The lack of clear written procedures within the SHP lead to the reinstatement. Dogs, feelings, anger, etc are all irrelevant to the process.

  • news4u Oct 17, 2008

    "The dog is fine and doesn't remember a thing."

    Then why use this method of training?

  • Adelinthe Oct 17, 2008

    psychobabble - "The Trooper did nothing wrong. A patrol dog MUST release on command."

    Using your excuse, a bullet to the head would have made the dog drop the dang thing too.

    sheesh

    The dog was hanging by the neck from the rail of a dock, for God's sakes, while this brave man circled it kicking it as it hung. He could have broken the dog's neck.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • USN Vet Oct 17, 2008

    They made the right decision.

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