Regina police union wants service to change Facebook after violent posts

REGINA – The union representing Regina police officers wants changes to the force’s Facebook page after a shooting involving a dog led to an online backlash and threats against officers.

The Regina Police Association, which represents 540 officers and civilian members, says the police service should be able to delay or edit posts before they appear on its Facebook page.

“We’re not saying to shutdown Facebook. We’re not saying that the public can’t comment, question, criticize and critique, but there was a comment posted on there on this weekend that said, ‘the only good cop is a dead cop,'” association president Evan Bray said Monday.

“My question is, does that serve any purpose? Is that open and honest and good feedback from the community or is that someone wanting to grandstand and make something that is borderline criminal?”

“There was a post on there this weekend saying maybe we should chain a police officer up in the backyard and shoot them and see how they like it. I mean really, does anyone believe that is fair game on a police service Facebook page?”

Bray says the police service needs a Facebook page. He said it’s an effective tool when properly used to enhance communication.

But, he said, comments that threaten officers should not be allowed.

Hundreds of comments were posted on the Regina Police Service Facebook page after a police officer shot and killed a dog while chasing an assault suspect Saturday evening.

Regina police say they got several calls about an assault. Officers found a severely injured man.

The service says multiple witnesses described three suspects running away from the scene. A canine officer, a police dog and a patrol officer followed a suspect into a yard, where they ran into a pitbull.

The police dog and the pitbull got into a scuffle and the canine officer tried in vain to separate them. The patrol officer joined the struggle and “made the decision to end the fight fearing for his life and the life of the canine officer,” according to a news release.

One shot was fired.

“The incident happened extremely quickly and it’s important to note that it wasn’t immediately apparent that there was a dog in the yard, or that the dog was on a chain,” stated the release.

The dog was later determined to be on a long chain with access to a significant amount of the yard.

Regina police say escape or retreat for the officers and the police dog “was very difficult.”

The pitbull owner says his pet was chained and he would have been able to restrain it. He plans to file a complaint.

An investigation is underway.

Regina police temporarily disabled public posting on its Facebook page Monday saying the “nature of the discussion was largely disrespectful and despite requests, continued to contain profanity and hate speech, as well as posts inciting violence.”

“We support your right to express opinions, even dissenting ones,” the service posted.

“We require that to be done without profanity, hate speech, or posts inciting violence. In the future please ensure your comments, opinions, and concerns are expressed in a manner safe for all users.”