This morning’s Coeur d’Alene Press is reporting that the Coeur d’Alene City Council agreed to an $80,000 out-of-court settlement with Craig Jones, the owner of Arfee, the dog shot and killed by a Coeur d’Alene police officer in July 2014.
The article included quotes from Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer who called the shooting “a mistake” and from Councilman Woody McEvers who seemed to conclude that money payoffs resolve everything. Many of the online article’s commenters called for Officer Kelley to be fired. None of them looked beyond the money settlement and asked if their solutions really solved the underlying problem.
As we suggested in our post entitled Careless Composition or Intentional Deception? on July 11 just two days after the shooting, “… the examination of this incident must not be limited to the conduct of the officer who fired the shot. We think it needs to go further to understand what in the officer’s mindset, supervision, and training led him to behave as he did in this incident.”
In our post on July 21, 2014, entitled Don’t Start Construction Yet…, we suggested:
The officer who fired the shot did not act in a vacuum. The action he took on July 9 was a function of the training and supervision he had received up to the moment he pulled the trigger. To the extent his actions were provably contrary to that training and supervision and departmental policies and practices, he was culpable. However, to the extent his actions were a function of incomplete and conflicting training and supervision as well as unclear or imprecise policies and practices, his culpability is shared equally by several above him including his field supervisor and watch commander, the department’s training officer, the department’s command staff, the chief, the Mayor and City Council, and the Idaho Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.
Since then, Coeur d’Alene has hired a new police chief, Lee White. We hope that Chief White has begun to take the steps necessary to fix the real problem as we see it. When both line and staff police officers engage in a series of entirely inappropriate actions as happened in the Arfee shooting, one line officer’s action involving lethal force (or as Widmyer dismissed it, “a mistake”) should lead to corrective actions well up the police department’s institutional food chain.
So we ask: As a result of the lessons learned from the Arfee shooting, what has changed in the way Coeur d’Alene, Idaho’s police officers are selected, trained, and supervised?