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Police response to IPCA report into Paeroa incident

Attributable to Superintendent Bruce Bird, Waikato District Commander:

Police acknowledges the findings of an Independent Police Conduct Authority report which finds that Police used excessive force in deploying a Police dog during the arrest of an offender in Paeroa last year.

A Police dog handler arrived at the scene in Paeroa on 23 April, 2017 to track the three occupants of a stolen vehicle that had fled on foot.

When the Police dog located one of the occupants, a female, the handler deployed his dog to apprehend her.

She received multiple wounds to her arm from the dog bite and required hospitalisation.

The IPCA notes appropriate medical attention was given.

Officers are trained in a range of tactical options when dealing with offenders, and any use of force must be considered, timely, proportionate and appropriate given the circumstances known at the time.

Police dog handlers must consider whether a lesser, more appropriate use of force is available before deploying a Police dog.

“We acknowledge that the dog handler did conduct a risk assessment in relation to the arrest of the female, and considered a range of factors in that assessment,” says Superintendent Bruce Bird, Waikato District Commander.

These included the suggestion she may be armed, that the location of the other offenders was unclear, there was difficult terrain, and that distance between the officer and female made other tactical options more difficult.

However, Police acknowledges that other tactical options could have and should have been used first, namely verbal communication and ‘empty hand’ tactics (physical restraint).

“Our staff work in a fast-paced, dynamic environment, and make a number of risk assessments on a daily basis,” Superintendent Bird says.

“On the occasions we don’t get these right, we work to ensure lessons are learned so better options are taken in the future.”


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