Sheriff Jenkins says deadly force is always a last resort.
Part of the training received by Frederick County Sheriff's Deputies includes dealing with vicious and aggressive animals that they may encounter when out serving warrants, apprehending suspects or other activities.
This is being brought up following two incidents where a deputy ended up shooting a dog because he thought he was in danger.
"If it becomes a situation where that animal becomes a threat to the safety of a deputy or another member of the public, and that deputy feels that deadly force is the only avenue, then certainly they have that authority to take that step and use deadly force, but only as a last resort," says Sheriff Chuck Jenkins.
But the Sheriff says in many instances, it doesn't end up where an animal is shot. He says deputies are instructed on how to recognize vicious or aggressive dogs, and how to use other means to control them without firing a shot. "A lot of time, there are vicious dogs, and 99.9% of the time, we deal with those in a way that none of the animals get hurt. But occasionally, from time to time, things happen," says Jenkins.
Earlier this week, a jury awarded Roger and Sandi Jenkins of Taneytown $620,000 for damages they suffered after a deputy shot their dog more than two years ago. "I think the monetary award was absolutely excessive. It was outrageous," says Sheriff Jenkins. "First of all, $620,000 for an animal that's still alive. The animal appears to be fine at this point." Jenkins says the county's attorney is exploring the possibility of appealing this decision.
Deputies were sent to the Jenkins house in January, 2010 to serve a civil warrant to their son. The jury says Deputies Tim Brooks violated the Jenkins' rights under the Maryland Constitution by shooting the couple's chocolate Labrador retriever named "Brandi." "I think the jury overstepped when they made that decision," says Sheriff Jenkins.
In another case, deputies wearing SWAT gear entered the home of Bruce Beall located at Jennings Court last week to serve a warrant. Beall says the cops shot his son's pit bull named "Hershey." The dog survived, but one of its legs needed to be amputated.
But Sheriff Jenkins says it was high-risk entry, in that Beall was wanted for armed robbery and burglary, and there were reports of weapons in the home and a vicious animal. The Sheriff says he stands behind his deputies for their actions.