Aug 18 • 16M

Breaking News: Retired Estes Park Police K9 Unit involved in Attack

Statement from Interim Police Chief Corey Pass, and Greeley Police PIO. Exclusive coverage from the Colorado Switchblade.

 
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Correction August 18th, 8:33pm - A mistake was made in our reporting that the victim of the attack was not Diego’s handler but another person at the residence.

The Colorado Switchblade recently learned that the retired Estes Park K9 Unit Diego was involved in an attack on a person in his handler’s residence.

The incident occurred on August 3rd at approximately 9:28 PM. Medical care was required however, the extent of the injuries to the handler is still unconfirmed.

After submitting a Colorado Open Records Request and reaching out to the public information officers for the Town of Estes Park, Greeley Police Department, and the Larimer County Sheriff's Office, confirmation and statements were given to the Colorado Switchblade.

According to Estes Park Police (EPPD) Interm Chief Corey Pass:

"On 080322 at 9:28 pm EPPD officers were dispatched to a home in Estes Park where a woman was screaming for help. Upon arrival, officers learned the woman had been attacked by a dog. Officers assisted medical personnel in helping the victim, who was transported to Estes Park Health. Due to the fact that the address and dog belonged to a former EPPD officer, it was decided to request the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office conduct the investigation. 

"Our thoughts are with the victim and the family. We are doing everything we can to support them and, at the same time, respect their privacy in this difficult and private matter. We greatly appreciate the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office for its support in assuming responsibility for investigating this case."

Also included in the statement was a brief history of the K9 Unit’s tenure with the EPPD:

"When our trained K9 handler alerted us he was leaving Estes Park for another agency, EPPD conferred with experts in K9 programs at other agencies across the state. These experts supported our goal of transferring Diego to a new agency since we do not have another K9 handler or potential handler among our officers. Diego left service with EPPD and was briefly owned by Greeley PD, but he was retired by Greeley PD after a difficult transition. Greeley PD elected to retire Diego to his original handler as a pet. 

According to the Greeley PD Public Information Officer, Kent Keller:

“I talked to my K9 guys and was told that we had K9 Diego for one day. The handler that we tried and the dog did not have a bond, which is not uncommon in the K9 handler world, I’m told, so we gave him back and began searching elsewhere for a better match.”

He added in a second email about documentation on Diego’s transfer to Greeley PD and back:

“While dogs changing agencies/handlers isn’t an everyday thing, it’s not uncommon by any means either as handlers retire or leave the department before the dog is ready to. But it was likely just us calling back EPPD and saying, The dog and handler aren’t bonding; we’re gonna pass on him, thanks.” It’s not a big official thing or anything. Kind of related, the bonding is a big portion of K9 handling. Our handlers meet and handle multiple dogs in the selection process to find a dog that fits the handler well and vice versa.”

The Colorado Switchblade also asked the following questions of the Town of Estes Park’s PIO:

  1. Can you tell me what K-9 standards the town used?

Our policy states: Canine teams will be trained using proven techniques and methodologies established through the standards set forth by the Colorado and Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Service Dog Program or an established comparable program at the discretion of the Chief or their designee for narcotics-detector dogs and patrol dogs.

The standards that both the K9 and handler were certified under are the Utah POST PSP-1.

  1. What part of the town’s website would I be able to find the public records/documentation that was necessary for the creation of the K-9 unit, and do you know what the costs were in total for the program?

Permission for the program came from the Chief of Police and the Town Administrator in Fall 2018. Funds were raised through donations from the community and outside sources. The total collected was $92,000, which was spent solely on K9 needs, including the K9 vehicle and training of both the dog and the handler. The K9 program was presented to EPPD staff on Nov. 18, 2018. The first donation was received on March 18, 2019. Diego was selected and purchased on September 12, 2019. The handler and K9 graduated from training, and Diego was sworn in on March 10, 2020. 

  1. Also, do you know what the status of Diego is now? Has he been euthanized? 

Please check with the Sheriff’s Office to see if they can help. We want to honor our partner agency’s role, and it’s not our information to share. 

  1. Any word on the condition of the Handler? Was it the original K-9 officer? Because I thought he had to leave town. 

Please check with the Larimer County Sheriff to see if this is information they have. We want to honor our partner agency’s role, and it’s not our information to share. 

  1. Was there a particular company or agency that the town used to acquire Diego? If so, which was it?

A team of 2 experts from Loveland PD, 1 K9 veterinarian, the EPPD handler, and EPPD Sergeant all researched several kennels, and ultimately, all parties flew down to Florida, where they found Diego. Several dogs at different kennels were considered and put through a variety of tests and medical exams before a dog was selected. Diego was obtained on September 19, 2019, from a kennel known as Police Service Dogs in Oxnard, Florida. 

  1. How long was the active tenure of Diego with the Estes Park Police Department?

Diego was sworn in with EPPD on 03/10/20 until 07/13/22

You can find more information on the Town of Estes Park’s now stopped K9 Unit on their webpage here.

This story is still ongoing and will be updated as more information becomes available.


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