Webinar presenter Chris Brosan answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Avoiding Teeth and Bullets: Safely Interacting with Animals as a Law Enforcement Officer. Here are just a few of his responses.
Audience Question: One suggestion is that it is typically preferred to approach horses from a 45-degree angle between the head and shoulder, approaching straight on puts the person in a position over the horse, constrict forward with their front legs and injure the person.
Chris Brosan: Yes, and that was the intent of the slide that said an angled approach is often beneficial. That’s the approach you want to take. You don’t want to come directly at them, but you want them to know that you are there and that you are going to be approaching. So, she’s absolutely right, coming in from an angled approach is probably the safest and best way to do that.
Audience Question: What can we do to encourage agencies to seek more training for law enforcement officers when it comes to using other defensive tools when encountering an aggressive dog?
Chris Brosan: Well, I think one of the best things to do is to attend some of the trainings and to make sure that the command staff is aware of the trainings and aware of the repercussions if that type of training is not offered. Obviously, there’s been a lot of bad press for departments that have not handled these situations correctly, so, having alternatives is key. The law enforcement world is under a lot of scrutiny. This is just another situation, where having the proper tools, having the proper training to de-escalate situations, even if it is an animal or a dog, is the best way to make sure that we have an option other than going to lethal force. We watched that one video where I think it was obvious that officer didn’t have much choice, but there are certain situations, and there’s plenty of videos on YouTube and on the web, where officers had other choices and didn’t use them. So, I think that making sure your command staff is aware of the different trainings that are out there and the options that are available is going to be your best bet. They also need to be enlightened on the repercussions on an officer, a department and a community if this training isn’t provided and a situation is handled poorly.
Audience Question: Do you have suggestions on how law enforcement should handle fatal animal encounters when they’re working with the media?
Chris Brosan: That’s a great question. Obviously, animal situations demand a lot of attention from the media and from the public in general. It is critical that your PIO is also attending some of these training because these are the type of things that will create a lot of social media interest and a lot of criticism. Being able to address those situations with facts, statistics, and what training that the department offers is going to be key to satisfying the need for information. The number of individuals that attend that training is the best way to prepare for those types of situations. It is really important that individuals understand, just what we talked about, that one dog is one dog. But when we’re talking about a situation where there are multiple dogs involved things change dramatically. Unfortunately, in those situations, you’ve got to escalate your progression in terms of your use of force. It will fall on the PIO to educate the media of all the variables that come into play in these cases that the general public likely would not normally consider. We are moving in the right direction. The National Sheriffs Association is really taking a great stand on this, and I think that should be a really good place for individuals to turn for continuing to answer some of these questions.
Audience Question: Generally speaking. And of course, every situation is different. Do you recommend agencies release the body cam video or hold off on that?
Chris Brosan: That’s going to be a question that needs to be answered by the District Attorney or Commonwealth’s Attorney. Obviously, those types of situations are heavily scrutinized right now. I think, we’re in a world where transparency is at the forefront so, policies and procedures need to be put in place to address that. As you saw in a couple of the videos that we watched here, and I have several other videos that I play during the eight-hour presentation, a lot can be learned from these experiences by departments and the public alike. It is going to boil down to the command staff and the Commonwealth Attorney’s office. But I think we’re at a point, just like everything else in law enforcement, where transparency is at the forefront.
Audience Question: Regarding catch poles, I use thin-film pipe insulation like what’s used for copper pipes. That is duct-taped to the plastic and head of the dog or —– so dogs do not break their teeth or hurt their gums if they bite it.
Chris Brosan: Yes, I think that it’s a good comment. As you can see, the catchpole pictured has a very dense foam, which offers some protection, but I think adding that extra layer of protection gives the dog a sense of comfort if it bites the pole and also protects them. So, it’s a great idea.
Audience Question: What experience have you had in the use of products such as Spray Shield? I’ve deployed it in the field and found it to be more effective than pepper spray.
Chris Brosan: I’ve never had the opportunity to use Spray Shield. If the individual asking the question could shoot me an e-mail with the experience that they’ve had, I would love to be able to take that in and address that possibly use that, moving forward.