SOUTH BEND — The South Bend Police Department has taken an officer and his canine off the street as it investigates the pair’s behavior during a recent arrest that turned chaotic, police said. Cpl. Scott Ross has been re-assigned to work in the police chief’s office and his canine, Nikko, has been taken off duty pending completion of the investigation, said South Bend police spokesman Capt. Phil Trent. For nearly two weeks, the department has been examining claims that Nikko bit two police officers as they were trying to restrain a car theft suspect Jan. 31 in a west side neighborhood. There are also allegations that Ross got into a physical altercation with another officer after the officer tried to shoot at Nikko, apparently in self-defense. Trent said the alleged series of events is rare and obviously concerning. “It’s still an open investigation ... we’re trying to get to the bottom of events that occurred,” Trent said. The department is reviewing officers’ written narratives, conducting interviews, and examining camera footage from police cruisers at the scene to determine exactly what happened, Trent said. He said Ross’s re-assignment was not disciplinary, but rather routine procedure during investigations. Trent did not know when Ross was assigned to the chief’s office. Administrative paperwork for Ross’ reassignment was sent through Wednesday, according to police records. Police officials are also investigating Nikko’s ability to perform his police duties properly, Trent said. Over the last 20 years, South Bend police dogs have become less aggressive and less prone to bite innocent people, Trent said, making the Jan. 31 incident all the more rare. “The incidence of a (South Bend police) dog biting an innocent person is very, very low,” he said. The South Bend police department has eight patrol canines, including Nikko, Trent said. Ross has worked for the police department since 1990.
Staff writer Mary Kate Malone: firstname.lastname@example.org (574) 235-6337