21 Sep 2021

Police dog use to capture escapee valid - Investigation

12:26 pm on 21 September 2021

An independent investigation has found the use of a police dog to arrest a man fleeing from officers in Dunedin was justified.

Auckland, New Zealand - October 10, 2019 : Close up of a New Zealand police officer's uniform and badge

Photo: 123rf

In April last year, the police sought to arrest a man who was wanted for multiple offences.

He had escaped police custody six days earlier after breaching lockdown, but his dangerous driving forced the police to abandon pursuit.

The man was then spotted on Great King Street where he fled from officers across a park.

A police dog handler who believed the man posed a serious risk to the public released his dog.

The man avoided the police dog's first attempts to restrain him, allowing the dog handler to take the man to the ground while the dog bit the man on his backside.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority found the use of the police dog was justified.

Its chair Judge Colin Doherty said the police made sound operational decisions based on what they knew and the circumstances at the time.

"They acted appropriately to prevent any member of the public being at risk of unnecessary harm."

The police have welcomed the findings.

Acting Otago Coastal Area Commander Inspector James Ure said the police have a range of tactical options available to them.

"In this instance, staff were arresting an offender who was wanted for multiple offences and had previously escaped from police custody," he said.

"These are fast-moving and dynamic situations that require situational awareness and an ongoing risk assessment by the officers involved.

"The actions of officers and the tactical options used to locate, mitigate risk and safely apprehend the offender were professional, consistent with relative policy and appropriate for the circumstances."