West Valley City police release body camera videos of K-9 use of force cases

A West Valley City K-9 prepares to deploy on July 19, 2020. Video still courtesy: WVCPD

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah, Nov. 2, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — West Valley City police have released body camera videos for K-9 use of force cases between 2018 and 2020.

“As a result of recent community interest in police K-9 programs, and as part of our ongoing commitment to transparency, the West Valley City Police Department is releasing to the public, and to the media, a K-9 Incident Briefing regarding K-9 uses of force, over the past three years, in which a suspect suffered any type of injury — no matter how small,” said a news release from WVCPD Monday. “The primary function of West Valley City Police K-9s is as a locating tool. A K-9 bite is rare.”

Over the course of 2018, 2019 and 2020, the WVCPD K-9s have been deployed 833 times, the news release said. There are 25 cases in which there was a bite that resulted in any type of injury, down to and including a scratch.

The briefing at 1 p.m. will make available to the public and the media the following:

• An “Inside the Department” video that focuses on the K-9 Unit. This video will explain how the K-9 unit works, what types of dogs the department has and how they are used, the training that the dogs and K-9 officers receive and the supervision process for the unit.
“Inside the Department” is an ongoing series of videos aimed at bringing the public a look at the inner workings of various aspects of the department, including different units within the department, types of training and systems of checks and balances in place.

• Body-worn camera video and case files for every West Valley City K-9 deployment that resulted in any type of injury to a suspect, no matter how small. This includes a K-9 Incident Briefing Video which covers each year from 2018 through 2020. The videos provides background information about each case, body-worn camera video from the K-9 handler and information about K-9 processes and procedures and how they apply to every case. Also available is the police report from the K-9 officer for each one of these cases

• The portion of the K-9 officer’s body-worn camera video which includes the dog engaging a suspect. This video has been lifted, as is and unedited, from the officer’s footage, with the exception of redactions for privacy as specified by GRAMA guidelines.

The news release added that there are a small number of cases in which body-worn camera video was not captured.

“These cases include agency assists in which our K-9 officers were assisting the United States Marshals Service, whose policy dictated that no body cameras be utilized, as well as misactivations or incidents where an officer was called from home due to an emergency situation and did not have access to cameras which are stored at the WVCPD building. Each of these cases has been thoroughly detailed within this briefing, a full explanation for the lack of video is provided and the full report of the K-9 officers has been made available.”

The body-worn camera videos and written incident reports are available to view here.


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