William Finney, who served as chief for 12 years, has signed a six-month contract to review and make recommendations on the city’s K-9 policies and practices.
The announcement of an audit comes after a man was bitten while officers were responding to a weapons call July 6. The department also announced significant changes to the K-9 unit following that incident.
Those changes include barring deployment of police dogs except in specific circumstances that pose a clear and immediate danger to officers or residents.
K-9 Restrictions as of July 9 (St. Paul Police)
- A full-time commander has been assigned to the unit.
- An immediate assessment focused on K-9 teams’ control, recall and release abilities will be conducted– and the assessments will continue twice a month, indefinitely.
- K-9 teams that do not meet control, recall and release standards will be removed from patrol.
- K-9 officers will be required to physically inspect all equipment on camera prior to their shifts.
- K-9s will be required to work on shorter leads
- Command approval is required for any canine deployment that does not involve instances where a suspect’s actions are likely to result in death or serious bodily harm– or K-9 apprehensions that do not involve people suspected of murder, manslaughter, aggravated robbery in the first degree, kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct or drive-by shootings.
The man, identified by the St. Paul Police Department as 33-year-old Glenn Lonee Slaughter, did not suffer any broken bones or require stitches, but said he was “in shock” during the attack.
A woman is also suing a St. Paul police officer after a police K-9 bit her during a search for two suspects last September.
Desiree Collins filed the lawsuit against Thaddeus Schmidt in U.S. District Court in December.
According to the lawsuit, Collins was taking out her garbage while police were searching for two suspects involved in a crime. The K-9 involved in the search then bit Collins after turning around a dumpster. The incident was caught on body camera footage.
Collins’ lawyers argued last week in court that the incident violated her Fourth Amendment rights. Schmidt’s lawyers questioned that assertion, but did acknowledge the officer made mistakes in the handling of the animal.
Finney retired from the department in 2004. He also served on the St. Paul City Council.