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Oregon Deputies Use Police Dog to Attack Inmate In a Jail Cell. Sheriff Defends Their Actions

This is Simply Simply Wrong in So Many Ways, force cannot be used to this extreme in custody, these individuals may not know this now, but they soon will.

“It starts with a bark,” Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson says. “It’s similar to everything we do. There’s a whole range of force options out there that a deputy can use.”

Dickerson is referring to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office K9 deputy, Lars. Lars, who was brought on to the force and paired with a handler in 2015, is trained in tracking suspects. Soon, he’ll likely be trained in narcotics detection.

The Belgian malinois is one of two canines employed by the Sheriff’s Office. Another dog, a shepherd named Odin trained in narcotics, is expected to join the Sheriff’s Office early next year.

Since bringing on the help of canines, law enforcement agencies across the county have reported success in tracking down and detaining fleeing suspects, and finding suspects hiding in dark or remote areas.

 

But the dogs can also be used in lieu of weapons to apprehend non-compliant suspects, whether they’re armed or not.

In August, Lars was brought in to the Columbia County Jail by his handler, Deputy Ryan Dews, to deal with a non-cooperative inmate.

VIDEO STILL COURTESY OF COLUMBIA COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE – Body cam footage from a Columbia County Sheriff’s Office deputy provided to the Spotlight upon request shows Lars, a K9 deputy employed by the agency, subduing an inmate for being combative and refusing to following orders. A rising volume of body cam and citizen-filmed footage of K9 attacks is raising questions about how law enforcement agencies use such units, especially on unarmed offenders.

Incident reports indicate Christopher Bartlett, an inmate who had been combative with deputies and may have a history of mental illness, needed to be moved to a different pod in the jail. Bartlett was instructed to place his hands through a small port in his cell door — the same port used to deliver meals to inmates — so he could be handcuffed and moved.

He didn’t comply.

Deputies showed up with Lars, barking anxiously outside the man’s jail cell.

“You’re gonna get bit!” a deputy warns Bartlett.

After a few seconds, the jail cell door swings open. A hard plastic tub, called a “tote” by jail staff, is hurled at deputies by Bartlett.

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