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- Our Town
No charges for police dog bites: Crown
By The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER - The will be no charges against police dog handlers in two separate incidents where suspects were bitten during arrests, the Crown announced Thursday.
In the first incident, RCMP officers in Surrey were responding to a complaint at a business on Nov. 18 when a police dog bit a male. He was seriously injured and taken to hospital, according to a report by the province's police watchdog agency.
In the second, an adult male sustained serious bite injuries from a police dog while being taken into custody in Victoria on Dec. 19. The man was transported to hospital for medical treatment, said the report from the Independent Investigations Office.
The IIO completed separate investigations and forwarded their reports to the Crown. The agency does not make a recommendation on whether charges should be approved or what charges Crown lawyers should consider.
The Crown reviewed those reports and will not be filing charges, the province's criminal justice branch said.
"In these cases, (the criminal justice branch) has concluded there is no substantial likelihood that the officers who were controlling the police service dogs, and who were the subject of the IIO investigations, would be convicted of any offences arising from the circumstances," spokesman Neil MacKenzie said in a statement.
The branch said it releases statements explaining charge decisions in all cases involving investigations from the police watchdog, in order to maintain confidence in the system.
Last month, a Vancouver legal advocacy group released a three-year study that found police dogs were the leading cause of injury at the hands of police forces in B.C.
The Pivot Legal Society examined the use of dog squads among municipal forces and the RCMP in B.C., which is the sole jurisdiction in Canada without regulations around the deployment of police dogs to apprehend suspects.
The group tallied data from the RCMP and the Office of the Police Complaints Commission, finding that at least 490 people were bitten and injured by police dogs between 2010 and 2012.
In B.C., the majority of forces train police service dogs with a method called bite-and-hold, as opposed to the other leading technique that simply sees the dog circle and bark, the report said.
It recommended standardizing record-keeping that tracks details of dog use and putting restrictions on how the dogs are deployed.
Last year, the province formed a working group to study police dog regulations.