WILKES-BARRE — One of the city’s two police K-9s has been removed from service, at least temporarily, but officials won’t say which dog or the reason for removal.
City administrator Ted Wampole on Thursday said there was “an incident involving a dog and an officer” after confirming that one of the dogs was removed from service recently.
Asked if he expected the dog to return to service, Wampole replied, “I hope so.”
Wampole wouldn’t provide the date of the incident involving the dog and the officer nor any additional information.
“I’m not at liberty to get into the reasoning behind it,” he said.
Asked if there were any other incidents with dogs trained by the trainer who trained the K-9 in question, Wampole said he’s “not at liberty to discuss that.”
Both of Wilkes-Barre’s police K-9s — Skoty and Chase — were trained by Paul Price, a former Wilkes-Barre Twp. police officer who runs a police dog training business — Northeast Police K-9 Academy — in Wilkes-Barre Twp.
The dogs were still in training as of September 2016, according to The Citizens’ Voice archives.
Asked if the city’s other police K-9 is still in service, Wampole said it is, adding that “there have been no incidents concerning the other dog.”
If that’s the case, it stands to reason that the dog removed from service is Chase, who is assigned to K-9 handler officer Joseph Homza.
Joshua Fought, 43, of Berwick, filed a federal lawsuit against Homza, Mayor Tony George and police Chief Marcella Lendacky in October 2017, claiming that Homza’s K-9 mauled him during an arrest on Public Square last July.
The suit alleges that Homza and his K-9 partner used excessive force while arresting Fought on July 18; and that the City of Wilkes-Barre, Mayor Tony George and police Chief Marcella Lendacky failed to properly train and supervise their police officers.
The suit was filed a day after Magisterial District Judge Thomas Malloy dismissed all the criminal charges that Homza had filed against Fought: public drunkenness, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
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