A Heyburn police officer has returned to work nearly three months after being placed on administrative leave as an independent law enforcement agency reviewed the May 27 shooting of two dogs along Interstate 84 near Exit 211.
The Jerome Police Department, a member of the Magic Valley Regional Critical Incident Task Force, found the officer was justified in killing the dogs that were causing safety concerns on the freeway.
The findings of the investigation were announced Friday at Heyburn City Hall.
Heyburn Police Chief Ryan Bertalotto said his department is reviewing and updating department policy following what he called “a difficult matter.”
The incident, captured in a video by an animal rescuer and posted on social media, drew outrage from people who questioned the officer’s actions and called for his removal.
The Heyburn Police Department has not revealed the officer’s name.
“To continue to advance the level of service to our community, we have recognized the incident as an opportunity to examine Heyburn Police’s policies, training, and resources,” Bertalotta said in a news release. “As a result, we have already purchased and implemented animal control equipment as well as reviewed and updated the department policy. … We have also begun internal discussions on animal control solutions as a city.”
In addition, the police department is discussing with the Idaho Transportation Department ways to warn motorists of safety hazards and traffic stoppages in high-risk areas such as mile marker 211, Bertalotta said.
“The Mayor’s office and City Council recognize the effect the incident and subsequent investigation have had on our community,” Mayor Dick Galbraith said in the release. “We trust that the officers of the Heyburn Police Department will continue to serve our citizens with the utmost care and that they remain committed to keeping our community safe.”
Stephanie Carsner of Declo took the video of the incident, from a vehicle, and posted it on social media that night, calling for charges against the officer.
“We need to come together as a community & as people that believe animals deserve better & bring some justice for these fur babies,” Carsner wrote in a post.
In a release at the time, Heyburn police said officers tried to capture the dogs by whistling, calling and shouting, and that the dogs were not in range for a taser to be utilized.
“These circumstances are not easy for first responders or the public,” the release said.