DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado lawmakers are looking to put an end to police officers killing dogs. They say police need more training when they come into contact with canines.
According to one of the bill’s sponsors, it is the first-of-its-kind in the country. The bill would require all law enforcement in Colorado to take a two-hour training course and annual follow-up in hopes to protect dogs.
“We are very concerned about what’s been happening with law enforcement shooting dogs,” said Sen. David Balmer, R-Centennial.
Balmer is spearheading the new bill.
“This is the very first bill in the country to propose training police officers on how to best handle dogs,” he said.
Three recent cases in Colorado include the shooting deaths of Ava in May of 2011, Chloe in November of 2012, and Ziggy this past January. In all the cases, Ava’s owner, Brittany Moore, says police are using excessive force.
“Completely unnecessary, there was no threat whatsoever,” Moore said. “It’s still upsetting.”
Moore says the problem lies in a lack of training and understanding.
“What they do to a family when they needlessly take away their family member — scars and emotional trauma,” Moore said.
The proposed bill would require annual canine training for police and sheriff’s deputies.
“We want to give them a chance to understand better how dogs behave and to understand the difference between a barking dog and a dog that’s actually threatening an officer,” Balmer said.
On Friday Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy Wilfred Europe was cleared of any wrong-doing in the shooting of Ziggy. His attorney says deadly force was necessary and officers need to protect themselves.
“In this particular case, Deputy Europe felt like he had no other choice, and that’s the way these guys are trained,” attorney Donald Sisson said.
The new bill deals only with dogs. It’s still just a draft of the bill. It will be revised and it’s expected to be introduced later this week.