This pit bull was shot by Keizer Police Jan. 8. (Submitted)

This pit bull was shot by Keizer Police Jan. 8. (Submitted)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

When the Keizer Police Department brought back its Community Response Unit a year ago, one of the main goals was to deal with drug complaints.

That has resulted in several longtime drug homes in Keizer being busted, with the most recent example taking place Jan. 8 on the 400 block of Juedes Avenue North.

Two people were arrested and an aggressive dog was shot when officers served a search warrant at the home early that morning.

According to a news release from the Keizer Police Department, members of the KPD’s CRU squad heard about complaints of drug dealing at 453 Juedes Avenue North in December and began an investigation. A search warrant was secured and served shortly before 6 a.m. on Jan. 8.

According to police, when officers entered the house, a 93-pound four-year-old American pit bull terrier-mix dog became aggressive and charged at the officers. Sgt. Jeff Goodman, believing serious injury was imminent for himself and fellow officers, shot and struck the dog at least one time in the left shoulder.

After being shot, the dog retreated into the garage and hid under a desk, staying highly agitated and not allowing officers near. The officers were eventually able to coax the dog out and placed him on a makeshift stretcher made specifically for dogs. Once muzzled, the dog was taken to Keizer Veterinary Clinic for treatment of a non-life threatening injury.

It was determined one of the people in the house, 50-year-old Tami Labee, had picked up the dog from its owner’s home about three hours before the search warrant was served on her home.

Jeff Kuhns, deputy chief with the KPD, said officers had no expectation of the dog being present.

“It was a total fluke,” Kuhns said Jan. 9. “We did our intelligence work and did the search warrant work. They had no reason to expect any dogs being present. One of Tami’s friends’ friends fell ill at 2 a.m. and had to go to the hospital. She asked the friend to care for the dog. That person, in turn, called Tami. Three hours later we served the search warrant.

“Often if we believe there will be vicious dogs, we can do different things,” he added. “Sometimes the first officer will have a fire extinguisher, because dogs don’t attack people with a fire extinguisher. That serves as a great deterrent. Or maybe we’ll make the arrest away from the house. There are all kinds of considerations. It was a total fluke the dog ended up there.”

In talking with Labee, investigators learned sales of controlled substances have been taking place in the home for decades. The investigation revealed daily and numerous methamphetamine sales were occurring at the home, which is less than 800 feet away from Cummings Elementary School and is also close to several day care facilities.

John Teague, the KPD police chief who brought back the CRU unit shortly after taking over his current position in the fall of 2013, said last Thursday night the dog came at officers three times and noted drugs have been common at the home.

“The problem has been going on for 22 years,” Teague said. “We heard about it in December and CRU hopped on it.”

Kuhns said the case is a prime example of why Teague took the action he did a year ago.

“CRU will help us learn about a lot more drug houses,” he said. “This is exactly why chief Teague restarted the team. We hope it will help us find out a lot more.”

Kuhns said police often rely on information from neighbors to learn of troublesome houses.

“It wasn’t made known to us (before December),” he said. “Either that house didn’t come across our radar or nobody reported it to us. There are probably a ton of other homes in Keizer we may not know about.”

Investigators also discovered a neighbor had moved out due to issues related to the drug sales.

Investigators found scales, packaging material, drug records, methamphetamine and other evidence when they searched the residence. Labee and her 19-year-old nephew James Futrell, who both resided in the home, were arrested on one count each of unlawful possession of methamphetamine and one count each of delivery of methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school. Both were taken to the Marion County Correctional Facility.

After such a case, Kuhns said procedures get reviewed.

“What we call incidents like these is threshold incident reports,” he said. “In any given day at the Keizer Police Department, we respond to a large number of calls for service. The chief and his command staff don’t have to review every incident, but a handful do rise to the level of threshold incident reports. Every officer involved will complete a report. Me, the chief and Sgt. Andrew Copeland review reports to make sure protocols are followed and to review policies, to see if anything needs to be changed.”

Samantha Casale with New Jersey-based Coyne Public Relations contacted the Keizertimes on Jan. 9 in regards to the shooting.

“Unfortunately, more than half of intentional police shootings nationwide involve animals, most often dogs,” Casale wrote in an e-mail. “In an effort to train police on how to deal with dog encounters without resorting to lethal force, the National Canine Research Council created a five-part series of police training videos made free and available online for police to watch during daily briefings.”

Kuhns said officers at the KPD get training.

“With regard to dogs, certainly officers do receive training,” he said. “We take into consideration dogs and any other animals present when search warrants are served. We go through a long checklist of things we address before approaching the house. We go over known hazards to officers: do we expect children or dogs to be present? Do we expect people to be armed? If we learn there are, we have to plan accordingly. In this case, we had no knowledge of pets being involved.”