WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Burlington Police to Receive Dog Training

Mar 29, 2015

There is a new requirement for Burlington police officers following a fatal officer-involved shooting in January.  Chief Doug Beaird said all officers must take a U.S. Department of Justice training course on how to react to incidents in which a vicious dog is present.

"It's an online training," said Beaird.  "It's like (60-75 minutes) of different videos.  The Department of Justice worked with the Chicago Police Department and did some violent dog encounter-type training."

Beaird said the department is also trying to set up some hands-on training for officers.

The officer-involved shooting occurred on January 6.  Officer Jesse Hill responded to a call of a domestic disturbance at the home of Autumn and Gabriel Steele.

The video from his body camera shows that upon exiting his vehicle, Hill attempted to break up an altercation between the two.

Just a couple seconds later, you can hear a dog growling and Hill telling the Steeles to get their dog.  Hill almost immediately fired two shots before falling backwards to the ground.

One of the bullets struck and killed Autumn Steele.  The other struck the dog.

Des Moines County Attorney Amy Beavers decided Hill should not face criminal charges because investigators determined he was responding to being attacked by the dog.

Beaird said this was a tragic accident from which everyone in the community is still recovering, especially those who work in his department.

"It's gotten better with time," said Beaird.  "It's still a really tragic event.  We still face it every day, the entire organization.  We are making progress but it is going to be a long haul for everyone."

That recovery continued Friday when Hill returned to active duty, after being placed on paid administrative leave for nearly three months.  Beaird said it's protocol for an officer to meet with the department's psychiatrist after discharging his/her weapon.

"Jesse has been going through that process now for about almost three months now," said Beaird.  "In talking to the psychiatrist, it was decided that it was time to at least ease (him) back into the duty work, the shift work."

Beaird said Hill worked with a partner during his shifts and will meet with administrators to assess the first shifts.  Hill was alone when he responded to the scene on January 6.