Suburban officers receive the same firearms training as their big-city counterparts, but when a suburban cop pulls the trigger, it's almost always to euthanize an animal. By comparison, 17 percent of Columbus police gunfire in the past 20 months was directed at people.
Dublin police officers twice responded to reports of injured deer at Muirfield Village Golf Club last month, each time euthanizing the gravely injured animals with a single shotgun blast at close range.
Suburban officers receive the same firearms training as their big-city counterparts, but when a suburban cop pulls the trigger, it’s almost always to euthanize an animal. By comparison, 17 percent of Columbus police gunfire in the past 20 months was directed at people.
Since Jan. 1, 2012, Whitehall officers fired just once — to kill a deer along Broad Street, said Whitehall Police Chief Richard Zitzke.
“We haven’t shot anybody or at anybody for a while,” he said. “Sometimes it comes in spurts."
New Albany officers used firearms — mostly to destroy deer — 38 times since the beginning of last year, higher than most Franklin County suburbs.
“A great deal of our border is open space,” said New Albany Sgt. Greg Jones. The city’s large residential lots and golf-course communities allow plenty of room for deer and other wildlife.
Officers destroy animals only when called to do so, Jones said. “We are not hunting and don’t take it lightly.”
Dublin and Hilliard euthanized animals almost 25 times each in the past 20 months, and Bexley and Upper Arlington just once apiece.
“We have a tremendous amount of rural area that we cover between the city of Hilliard and Norwich Township,” Hilliard Police Chief Doug Francis said. “Deer-versus-car accidents occur with regularity (especially in the fall), and when we have an injured deer as a result of the crash, we must dispatch it.”
In Newark, farmers and gun owners often rid land of coyotes or other unwanted pests themselves, said Newark Police Patrol Cmdr. Steven Baum.
“We have enough of a hunting population that we usually have a neighbor that handles it.”
Regardless of who is doing the shooting, safety is paramount when destroying an animal, said Jones, of the New Albany police. “You have to know what’s between you and the animal and where the bullet is going to go.”
And the public, especially children, should be spared from watching, he said.
Bexley’s 28 full-time and seven reserve officers fired almost 16,000 rounds from pistols and rifles last year — all during training. Only once in 20 months, on Aug. 23, was gunfire used in public: A coyote was killed after being seen near a school.
“It’s a high-risk, low-frequency activity,” Bexley Capt. Bryan Holbrook said. “We like to think that a lot of things we do would prevent deadly force.”
Bexley police haven’t shot a human in almost three decades, Holbrook said.
Columbus police officers, meanwhile, fired weapons 195 times since Jan. 1, 2012, directing their weapon at suspects 33 times. Nine of those resulted in suspects being killed.
The remaining shots were at animals or accidental firings.
Officer-involved shootings, though rare, do occur in the suburbs. In 2001,Whitehall Police Officer Terry McDowell was shot and killed and his partner, Police Officer Eric Brill, suffered a career-ending injury while they were serving a court summons. The killer, Bela Mozer, was shot and killed by police in the gun battle.
And Hilliard Police Officer Anthony LaRosa shot and killed a man who threatened him with a butcher knife in late 2011. A Franklin County grand jury determined that the shooting was justified.