Gainesville city officials met with around 30 citizens on Tuesday in the first of two community events focused on the police department’s K-9 unit.
Gainesville Police Department (GPD) officials walked through a few changes in policy since Terrell Bradley lost an eye in an arrest involving the unit. The presentation also included numbers on K-9 apprehensions and bites resulting from those apprehensions.
The next meeting will be on March 21 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Williams Elementary, 1245 SE 7th Ave.
City Manager Cynthia Curry and GPD Chief Lonnie Scott reiterated past statements that the K-9 unit provides a benefit to the community and serves as another tool for officers.
“You have to remember that the K-9 unit is only one component of the use of force continuum—or what we call response to resistance,” Scott said. “Everything that we do, as far as use of force, is a response to resistance.”
Scott said officers try to settle issues through respect between the officers and whoever they interact with. However, Scott said when individuals refuse to obey, officers must control the situation through a number of options that he called the response to resistance continuum.
Scott said a response could range from grabbing someone on the arm to tackling an individual to the use of a taser, a gun or a K-9 unit.
Chief Inspector Jamie Kurnick presented data on the K-9 team. In 2022, GPD received 94,185 calls for service and used a response to resistance technique 69 times throughout the year—whether a tackle, taser or K-9 apprehension.
Kurnick said the numbers show that GPD’s de-escalation and crisis intervention training has been ingrained into the department’s system and results in little force used by officers throughout the year.
Kurnick said each use of force goes through three levels of supervision and a review by internal affairs. She said the system also flags for review any officer who use five response to resistance techniques in a year.
“There is accountability; there is transparency,” Kurnick said. “We’re making sure that we’re doing the right things for the right reasons.”
GPD has changed policy since Bradley’s arrest so that Scott is notified immediately if a K-9 apprehension results in an injury.
During a time of public comments or questions, five people spoke against the K-9 unit and current policies, while four people spoke in favor of GPD’s position and the unit. Comments included questions on the validity of the data, K-9 policy and the circumstances around Bradley’s apprehension.
Last week, Curry pulled the K-9 unit from service as the city continues to evaluate how to move forward. A Gainesville press release called the action temporary and said the city would evaluate the unit’s value, especially in light of recent pressure to control finances.
The newly formed Public Safety Committee, made up of three city commissioners, will discuss the K-9 unit at its meeting on March 29.
Thank you for the reporting!
The dog did not cause the injury. The criminal running and jumping into a bush and a limb from said bush poked out his eye. Quit blaming the dog and the police. Make the criminal take responsibility for his actions.
Are you sure Saco has time for this committee? We certainly don’t want her to exceed her self imposed 20 hour per week schedule. Oh well.