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Police Chief investigates potential K-9 abuse at department

Mike Mason

Police Chief investigates potential K-9 abuse at department

CREATED Feb. 19, 2013

 FORT MYERS - The Fort Myers police Chief tight lipped about a review he's launching into potential canine abuse at the department. This comes one week after Fox 4 began investigating allegations of officers mistreating their K-9 partners. Four in your Corner investigator Mike Mason holding officials accountable tonight.

 
Mike Mason: “Our series of reports sparking outrage both locally and nationally and now the pressure apparently convincing the Chief of police to take action.”
 
After accusations of potential dog abuse surfaced, Fort Myers police Chief Doug Baker has now launched a review of his entire K-9 unit, but the Chief refuses to go into details.
 
Mike Mason: "The administrative review for the K-9 department..”.
Chief Doug Baker: "Go through Shelly."
Mike Mason: "So you don't want to talk about it?"
Chief Doug Baker: "Go through Shelly."
Mike Mason: "Okay."
 
Baker's spokesperson, Shelly Flynn, sending us Chief Baker’s statement saying in part: "I have called for an administrative review of the K-9 unit that includes assistance from an outside entity. I have confidence in the process and once the review has been completed it will be open for public inspection."
 
This all comes after 2 officers reported seeing fellow officer George Sanford striking his K-9 partner, “Euro”, last October.  Officer Sanford telling us it wasn't abusive.
 
Officer George Sanford: "Yes, I did smack Euro in the nose twice, two or three times."
 
Police investigated and reprimanded officer Sanford. He was still allowed to keep Euro and that sparked outrage with the national animal rights group, PETA. They urged people to contact city officials and demand accountability. After reviewing the police investigation we also found there may have been problems in the past.
 
The department’s lead K-9 trainer told investigators he saw Sanford strike Euro before, on 2 separate occasions...but that was never investigated. Sanford saying what he did was minor compared to how other handlers treat their dogs.
 
Officer George Sanford: "Because the other handlers have done things to their dogs that are a lot worse that what I've done to him, you know, just smack him in the nose."
 
But Sanford's allegations were never investigated either. We wanted to ask Chief Baker why.
 
Mike Mason: "Can I ask you one quick question?"
Chief Doug Baker: "No, talk to Shelly."
 
Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson did speak with us saying he's hopeful this review will get to the bottom of things.
 
Mayor Randy Henderson: "I want to know if there's something wrong you know, we need to know that - but until then there's little responsible remarks that I can make on it frankly and be fair about it."
 
City Manager Billy Mitchell will likely have the final word, since the Chief answers only to him. But like Chief Baker, Mitchell is staying quiet.
 
Mike Mason: "Mr. Mitchell, can we talk to you about the K-9 administrative review please?"
 
We also wanted to know which outside agency would be conducting the review but we're told that information is confidential.

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