Regina police shutters Facebook page over hateful dog-shooting posts
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, March 26, 2013 12:44PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 26, 2013 4:56PM EDT
The Regina Police Service has temporarily shut down its Facebook page to stop an onslaught of hateful and threatening comments that were posted after one of its officers shot and killed a dog during a foot chase last weekend.
The force said Monday it was forced to take down its page because “we refuse to be a platform for people to spew hatred, profanity and the promotion of violence.”
In a statement posted on its website, the force said comments were being posted by users not only in Saskatchewan but from across Canada and around the world.
“Since we are unable to ensure that only our community members are posting and that the conversation remains civil and free of profanity, hate speech and the promotion of violence, we must remove this page for the time being until we have more resources or a more in depth policy in place,” the statement read.
The force’s website and Twitter feed will remain active.
Hundreds of comments flooded the Facebook page after the shooting, which took place around 7:30 p.m. local time Saturday evening as officers responded to an assault call on Retallack Streetin Regina’s north end.
According to a separate statement issued by the force about the incident, officers found a “severely injured male.” Witnesses reported seeing three suspects flee the scene, and a canine officer, a police dog and a patrol officer began pursuit.
One of the officers noticed a suspect in a nearby yard and the two officers and the dog followed, where they were quickly confronted by a second dog.
The two dogs began fighting and neither officer could subdue the unknown dog.
“The patrol officer realized that they were losing the struggle and feared serious injury to himself, the canine officer and the (police service dog),” according to the police statement. “The patrol officer made the decision to end the fight, fearing for his life and the life of the canine officer.”
The officer drew his firearm and fired a single shot. The dog later died at the scene. Police later determined that the dog had been on a long chain with access to “a significant amount of the yard.”
According to the statement, the officers and the police dog could not easily retreat or escape when they first encountered the second dog.
Police are investigating the incident.
The Regina Police Association, the union representing some 540 officers and civilians, had called for changes to how comments are posted to the force’s Facebook account, but stopped short of asking for the page to be taken down entirely.
Association president Evan Bray said Monday that when used properly, the force’s Facebook page is an important venue for fostering better communication with the public. However, posts that advocate violence against officers should not be “fair game” on a police Facebook page.
“We're not saying that the public can't comment, question, criticize and critique, but there was a comment posted on there on this weekend that said, 'the only good cop is a dead cop,"' Bray said Monday.
"My question is, does that serve any purpose? Is that open and honest and good feedback from the community or is that someone wanting to grandstand and make something that is borderline criminal?"
With files from The Canadian Press and CTV Regina