SLCPD Press Conference: Chief Burbank Addresses Investigation Of Officer-Involved Shooting Of A Dog
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[SLCPD Press Conference: Chief Burbank Addresses Investigation Of Officer-Involved Shooting Of A Dog]
[Chief Chris Burbank (Salt Lake City Police Department] Source: LYBIO.net
On the 18th of June in the afternoon, just a little after 3 0’clock the police department received a call of a missing child. And we take these things tremendously serious, unfortunately we have in the past in the City of Salt Lake and throughout our nation had far too many missing children that have ended in tragedy. And so its circumstances where we send a number of resources to the scene in order to ensure the fast as possible conclusion to one of those events.
We had numerous officers in the area. Officers conducted a search of the house, not an extensive search by any means. In fact, I’m sure the parents have conducted a search. Ultimately the child was found about an hour and half later, underneath a box, buried with blankets asleep. We had circumstances where this particular child was non-responsive to verbal indication. So calling his name would not have solved the situation for us.
Our officers immediately began conducting a search of the area. As I said, before we have had extensive and unfortunate practice in this particular area. We follow protocols outlined by the National Center for missing and exploited – for exploited and missing children. We’ve worked with them extensively in the past, not only here in Salt Lake, but as we partnered with other agencies as they’ve had tragedies of missing children and children unfortunately ultimately found murdered.
One of our officers responded to the residences of Mr. Kendall. Knocked on the door and received no answer. There was a yard to that location, the officer entered the yard it was an unlocked yard, he did not force his way into the area. At some point an officer – the officer encountered a dog that he felt was a threat. My expectation of every police officer, in fact I verbalize this to every single officer who sits in my office. I ask you to do what you believe is right, given the circumstances that face you.
Now doing what’s right given the circumstance that faces anyone does not always result in the best outcome of a situation, but we can’t ask much more of a police officer, especially given the dynamics situations that occur every single day in this city.
Unfortunately in this particular circumstance, the officer utilized a firearm to stop the dog that he believed to be attacking him. There has been a lot of information put forward about where the dog was and the distances in some of those other things. It would be irresponsible – irresponsible of me to go into tremendous detail there, because we still have an investigative process to take place, which involves our Internal Affairs Office; it involves the Civilian Review Board; an independent investigation of the circumstances. For me to come to too many conclusions today would usurp that process and in fact nullify it and I’m not only not going to do that but I’m absolutely unwilling to do that because that process is extremely valuable to how we do business and we support it 100%.
But in this particular circumstance evidence shows that the dog was extremely close, in fact within feet of the officer. We do have documentation that of course will be part of the investigation and determinations can be made there. This is an unfortunate circumstance where a family pet or Geist was killed. It’s not the intention of any police officer to go out and conduct business in this manner. They are put in a situation that they have to face some tremendous circumstances.
And if you think for just a minute imagine what they outcry would be if we said well we didn’t go into any yards looking for this child if something tragic happened to the child, we didn’t go into any yards that were [uh] fenced, we didn’t look anywhere where we didn’t think we had access to, exiting circumstances certainly dictate our ability to go in an unsecure yard and to check and see if a child is in there. In fact, it wasn’t too along in a neighboring area that a child was thrown over the neighborhood fence. After horrendous things were done to him.
It is our responsibility to ensure that we do all we can to bring safe, resolution for the circumstance that we encountered. As I said before, unfortunately in this particular circumstance a family pet lost its life, not the officer’s intent.
In fact, the raging debate has gone on, on the internet and throughout as to who the officer is and which officer Olsen. Well its officer Brett Olsen. And yes, he is the hero of Trolley Square or one of them. This is seasoned officer who has tremendous experience and in fact has been under fire and performed very well.
I would like to take just a moment to read a few of the e-mails. “That officer would lay dead next to my dog, I can honestly tell you that if cop were just to shoot my dog, I would find a way to shoot that cop, no joke; I would kill the cop that killed my dog”. “That pig that shot the dog needs to executed too”. There is a lot worse than that. It is extremely disappointing.
This police department has worked tirelessly to ensure that the process that exists within our city for people to protest, for people to bring forth issues, for people to address problems and concerns with the police department that avenues exist that we can move together and resolve problems.
The other thing that is amazing to me. After 23 years in law enforcement, I haven’t seen this type of public outcry and certain human beings have lost their life. And this doesn’t – I’m not here to minimize any particular incident, especially not this one, but perspective has been lost, absolutely the police department is going to go forward with an investigation, individuals will be held accountable for their actions as they always are, not held accountable to this ridiculousness.
So that there is no confusion the process by which an officer is investigated and reviewed by the not only Internal Affairs but the Civilian Review Board takes approximately a month.
Officers are afforded the right to have attorney’s present when they are brought into that or representatives that they are choosing. There is timeframes as outlined in our memorandum of understanding the officers in our labor union.
The Civilian Review Board has to impanel a group in order to hear the circumstances. It is a process that takes places that does not mean that we’re minimizing that we’re not moving forward. Right, but it is a process that takes places and it is a good and thorough process that takes places. In fact, it is the exact same process that has reviewed officer involved shootings, has involved officer use a force and all kinds of other officer miss conduct that has come forward.
We are committed as we have been in the past and will continue to be in the future to ensuring that the Salt Lake City Police Department does business appropriately in-line with the community expectations that exist.
I should add realistic expectations that exist.
We have contacted the Humane Society for the United States, and the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and the Department of Justice. We will be reviewing not only the officer’s actions.
We will be reviewing our training and protocol and how we approach situations. I cannot in my mind, however at this point imagine an officer coming forward and saying that we didn’t do all we could defined a missing child.
I ask only one thing and that this community continues to approach interactions with the police department in a respectful manner. I absolutely demand that every single one of my officers treats the public with the respect and dignity that they deserve. My officer and officers deserve no less.
With that, I will take a couple of questions, understand that I will not go into great detail, because again I think that’s a responsibility of the Civilian Review Board.
So you know I am obligated to take into account the investigation of Internal Affairs, the review of the Civilian Review Board before making my final conclusion. And I will not make a final determination until I have both of those done.
[Inaudible]… is that fare to say?
[Chris Burbank:] Source: LYBIO.net
I think it’s better to categorize that as disappointing, because as I said before, circumstances significant impactful circumstances on our community have been dealt with by these police department in a very humane and civil manner in the past and will continue to be. On that expectation and as I have always said, I receive tremendous accolades for how occupy was handled in DeChristopher incident, in fact we wont name the source here and single anyone out, but I was picked as a Utahn of the Year that’s not me that’s because we have officers in this department, who put forth the exact ideal that I asked to treat people with dignity and respect.
And that is the two way street , occupy and resolution of those events that DeChristopher event time and time again, events that have taken place, going back to earlier in my career as a Police Chief, the pedestrian Orton incident. These types of resolutions do not take place unless it’s a two way street, it is dependant upon the public and the protesters to work both ways, because if one of those sides elevates the circumstance, whether that’s a police or the public, then we loose control. That is why I live in Salt Lake City. That is why I remain as the Police Chief here, because of the civil dialogue in nature that takes place.
We support and welcome anyone who has criticism of the police department. If we’ve done wrong that is my responsibility to make sure that we correct that but that is not handled in the manner that we’re seeing today.
… of the emails and letter you are getting are officers getting verbal abuse on the street?
Oh, absolutely, verbal abuse on the street, verbal abuse at home, officer’s addresses, phone numbers and things are being put out. In fact, on the elevator right down to this very conference. I encountered Officer Olsen, not the one involved in this particular circumstance, but the unfortunate one that’s received all the hate mail and notices from everybody who thinks he is the one involved in this.
Chief given the tenor of some the emails you’ve received are there going to be any precautions to ensure officers Olsen safety now that he’s been identified?
Well, so interestingly enough. The identification of officers, I mean the reason that we don’t put forth officer’s names is because we want to be able to conducting investigation and have them be able to come and go and to not feel the pressure of that.
All right, eventually, there is nothing to hide within the police department, I’ve got nothing to hide, I’m proud of this officer and what he has done in the past.
We’re going to review the circumstances and so Olsen is something that every officer lives with every single day. In fact officers have been involved in some of the most horrendous crimes that have ever occurred in this state. And are asked to go to court almost every single day and stand up and testify to what they known to be true and correct and put themselves and harms way or additional harms way that far exceeds what happens on the street on a daily basis.
And, so they are always aware of it, we are always concerned with that; but we should not, all right, the partners that we have, the partnership and trust that we have developed should not erode to this over one single incident, it is very rare that we’re involved in shooting situations at all, whether a dog or a human being.
I think some credit needs to be given to these officers, I can look in my career on 13 separate occasions. I could have taken someone’s life easily within the state law. I choose not to, I always credit training, the partners I was with and my experience.
That goes on every single day in this community and officers demonstrate tremendous restraint and control. This officer has described in his police report faced a situation that he felt that was his only option. We’re going to ask the questions, well what other options were available to you, what are the distances and we’re going to get into all that great detail, but not appropriate to speculate at this point. Please let me go back here.
What can you give about amplifying the situation of the time…and the personal service you rendered there?
What do you mean amplifying?
Well any further development going on there, so?
As far as protocol?
Ya, no. As far as service in public safety?
Well, one of the things that I think is always a challenge in any organization, right. We have to take at face value, what the public tells us. When Mrs. Jones dials a phone and says “there are gang member standing outside in front of my house, and I think they’re dealing drugs.” We don’t have the ability of saying, now “Mrs. Jones, I’m sure those are just nice people, don’t worry about it; call us when something more dramatic happens.” We respond to that.
When a family calls and says “our child has been missing and we are extremely concerned and these are the circumstances, what can you do to help us.” We respond and help, just as we do every single day on situations here, and officers have to take a face value and do all they can given those circumstances and do we learn every single day absolutely, but we follow protocol, we have in place procedures, I cannot tell you of the extensive amount of training that this department has received and the preparation that we’ve had because of past experiences regarding missing children.
Most missing children who are ultimately killed are killed within the first half hour of their abduction. That shortens that time window for expediency for police officer significantly. I won’t name individual cases, because I think most of you have worked those cases and heard about them in the past. Please.
[Female Speaker:] Source: LYBIO.net
Can you talk about the difference in protocol between when a human being is shot and than an animal is shot when an investigation happens when an officer is involved?
Well, there is not a tremendous amount of differences as far as Internal Affairs is involved. Internal Affairs conducts an investigation, they interview the officers, we take photographs, we interviewee the witnesses, I mean we basically put together case file to determine what happened.
My expectation of an Internal Affairs investigation is a fact finding mission, independent of anything other than the facts, their job is to determine this is what happened most accurately as they possibly can.
[Male Speaker:] Source: LYBIO.net
From what you know so far do you think this was a credible threat that the dog maybe lunged at him? What can you tell me?
The only thing that I’m going to say on that right now is that you have again a very seasoned officer, not prone to panic and the distances were extremely close in which that shooting took place.
Could he have used non lethal force? Taser…?
There is a lot of could have used, again, it depends on the circumstance, I mean the same circumstance exist with the human being, in the distance that a human being is closing the space between an officer, what are your options available and how are you best going to take care of it and so absolutely that’s an expectation that will be review, but irresponsible to speculate it at this point. Let me come here and I’ll come over there, please.
Chief there is a lot of people calling that this officer be fired, your reaction that he would lose his job or something… [Inaudible]. Or should lose his job according to all these people?
Let me address it this way, every single year, there is many officers that are dismissed from the police department or asked to no longer work here, because of circumstances that they are involved in, most of those involve misconduct. And when misconduct rises to the certain level, they can no longer be a police officer in my eyes, because they have lost the trust of the police department, myself and the community that they serve. And so in this particular circumstance, the review will take place, if the officer acted appropriately under the policy and guidelines, given the circumstance that existed absolutely he should not lose his job. Why should he?
But the officer will remain on the job for the duration of this investigation?
Yes, as they do and there are many circumstances. Please.
…a video that came out from Sean Kendall, more informative or insightful of anger?
I think my officers showed tremendous restraint.
You said that he’ll remain on the job as he would in most cases but in incident where an officer is discharged a fire arm and a human being is killed; typically that officer is placed on administrative leave pending the results of that internal investigation – is there a difference? Obviously, you said, perspective has been lost , is there a difference canine is not a human being?
[Chris Burbank:] Source: LYBIO.net
Well, I think you need to ask yourself that question, is there are a difference? An officer utilized a firearm for an animal that he believed to be attacking him is what the circumstances are. I think there is a different standard and should always be for an officer who takes the life of a human being. Now that does the meaning I’m not minimizing, review should take place, but there is a different level that is in fact a felony under our state law, when you take a human being’s life. And that’s what the district attorney reviews; did that officer violate state statute? I will take two more questions and then let me come up here and I’ll come back to you.
How do you feel about the dog owner reacted – [I understand that there is a reality next weekend on this issue?]
No, I’m not going to comment, I’m not on that persons mind and certainly it is distressing, but the police department is always happy to work to improve what took place in fact representative of the police department met with Mr. Kendall and offered to do all we can, while that will never replace Geist, all right, but do whatever we can to make it right, it was never our intention to take the dog’s life. And, so we will continue to work towards that vein.
All I ask – I’ll tell you what, I am one of the biggest supporters of the ability in this nation to stand-up and say, that government is doing wrong and we have a problem with it. That should be done peacefully and with respect and that’s all I ask, and I welcome anybody, that’s why we have that lovely clause out front. You have an issue with the police department, certainly come and bring it to us and we will address it. And all I ask again, well as the examples are – I cited here, extremely again – what I view is undeserving, unrealistic and tragic. One more question here; anyone? Did you have one or – okay.
[Male Speaker:] Source: LYBIO.net
Will the department be reassessing the way it trains officers when dealing with aggressive dogs?
Always, always I mean after every single circumstance that we have, whether it rises to this level or not, the department reviews the circumstance of these police officers, is this the right way to go, is this how we should be conducting business and can we do better? I mean that’s a constant thing that takes place. After every single swat operation that takes place, after every single critical incident, after every single major traffic accident that takes place in this city, a review is conducted in the police department about how we did business, what the circumstances were and count we do better. Thank you very much.
SLCPD Press Conference: Chief Burbank Addresses Investigation Of Officer-Involved Shooting Of A Dog. Evidence shows that the dog was extremely close, in fact, within feet of the officer. News Conference Transcript, Dialogue, Remarks, Saying, Quotes, Words And Text.