A local Horseshoe Bend resident, Edith Williams, has been instrumental in bringing out the importance of dealing with canines in the world of law enforcement. By William’s fundraising and spreading the word, the Canine Encounters Law Enforcement Training was recently held in Meridian at no cost to local agencies to bring representatives in. This class focused on non-lethal alternative methods for officers dealing with aggressive dogs.
Fifteen Idaho law enforcement agencies sent a total of 38 representatives to bring this “train the trainer” class home to their agencies and fellow officers. Idaho City PD Chief John Krempa and Boise County Reserve Officer just attended the 12hr seminar on alternate and less lethal means to deal with aggressive dogs, to also include “hand to paw combat” when no weapons or tools are available. This training was taught by Jim Osorio of Canine Encounters in Arlington, Texas.
Williams spent a good deal of time working at bringing this class to Meridian, Idaho, in hopes that it will help different local agencies understand the importance of being prepared for and knowing how to interpret and deescalate dog encounters when split second decisions need to be made, and also what the consequences of shooting a dog can be for an officer, an agency or community. She also takes the classes to gain better insight into officer perspective on this topic. Williams has attended an 8hr class at Ada County Sheriff’s Office in Oct. 2014, and the 12hr class at Lewiston Police Department last April and again Meridian PD this month.
Involvement with the Canine Encounter Training began as Williams learned that there were more effective ways to control a canine in abnormal situations. Her passion and mission for change began after speaking with Boise County Sheriff’s office the Filer Idaho dog shooting and a quote from then Deputy Nate Edgerton. “They don’t teach you anything about dogs at P.O.S.T. (Peace Officer Standards and Training). You just have to figure it out when you meet one.”
Williams responded, “In light of the public outrage over dog shootings, I felt this was an injustice towards police officers that needed to change. I successfully petitioned P.O.S.T. a few months later with a request to amend the curriculum.” With that effort, the implementation of the new curriculum is anticipated with the 2018 academy classes. In the meantime, P.O.S.T. created a training DVD, which Williams is currently reviewing.
Krempa says that in Boise County the vicious animal encounters are minimal but he added, “it never hurts to be prepared and this class gave me the tools to respond. It can be something as simple as carrying dog biscuits to a how you talk to a canine.” Krempa wants to take what he has learned and develop smaller scale training for Boise County law enforcement officers.
“The use of lethal force on ‘aggressive’ dog is a public safety concern. The ASPCA estimates that 50% of police shooting incidents nationally involve dogs. Shooting a dog is almost always preventable and should remain an absolute last resort,” Williams says, eagerly adding, “It is my hope that the Boise County Sheriff’s office will meet with Chief Krempa, implement insights gained and will also offer pertinent information to our school staff and county residents through community education programs.”
Meridian PD Chief Jeff Lavey has also taken up the cause. He was on the 2015 POST Training Subcommittee that recommended the curriculum amendment to the P.O.S.T. Council and is now Chairman of the Council. Williams says, “This year we managed to bring the Texas trainer back to Idaho to hold two more classes, completely funded by public donations. It all started because of former Boise County Deputy Nate Edgerton’s and Former Sheriff Ben Roeber’s comments to me. So I want Nate, Ben and the Boise County Sheriff’s Office to know … this happened because of you, because you reached out and shared your insights and thoughts with an upset and worried resident.”
Written by Janet Juroch