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Use of Police dog to arrest a young person in Te Awamutu justified – IPCA

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that a Police dog handler’s decision to use his dog to apprehend a 12-year-old male was justified.

At about 1:30am on 4 January 2023, Police responded to an alarm activation at a pharmacy in Te Awamutu. As Police officers arrived to investigate, they saw a vehicle driving with its lights off on the far side of the car park. The officers suspected that the occupants of the vehicle had broken into the pharmacy. They drove toward the vehicle and activated the patrol cars lights and siren. The vehicle exited the carpark, crossed onto the wrong side of the road, and fled from Police. The officers decided not to pursue the vehicle.

A few minutes later the officers located the vehicle on a rural road. It was struggling to get up a hill and sparks were coming from one of the rear tyres. The vehicle came to a stop and two occupants got out and ran away.

A Police dog handler used his Police dog to track the two occupants over farmland to a rural property. It was dark apart from a small amount of ambient lighting. The dog handler says he saw two people running away from him, yelled for them to stop, and warned he would release his dog if they failed to do so. The two occupants continued to run away, and the dog handler released the dog. The dog bit a 12-year-old on the leg. Police took the young person to hospital, where he was admitted for treatment.

The Authority has concluded that the use of the dog was justified and did not amount to excessive force. The officers had reasonable cause to suspect that the occupants of the car had been engaged in quite serious offending and it was appropriate for the dog handler to release the dog to prevent their escape.


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