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July 2, 2013

Fiesta yields 17 arrests, police K9 questions

One person did this, another did that, and all in all, police arrested 17 people on or around the grounds of St. Peter’s Fiesta activities, police reports indicated Monday.

But while police reported no injuries, residents expressed concern about the department’s use of K9 dog units over the weekend.

One person filed an official complaint against the police’s use of a K9 unit at the Fiesta Pub on Rogers Street at 1:30 Sunday morning. The report was unavailable because the investigation is ongoing, police said, and the complainant, when contacted by the Times, declined to comment for the same reason.

Police Chief Leonard Campanello addressed concerns he had heard from business owners and residents in a press release Monday.

“I can tell you that I am evaluating that response with the input I have heard from my officers, establishment owners, and citizens I have heard from,” he said.

Campanello, who took over the chief’s post last August and was deploying his department for Fiesta for the first time, urged residents to contact him if they had concerns about the use of muzzled K9s outside of bars at closing times.

“There is perspective in every police matter, especially when managing a crowd of thousands across several establishments who may have been consuming alcohol, and sometimes those perspectives can differ,” he said.

The online community rushed to social media pages to post cell phone footage of the events that unfolded as the bars and pubs emptied Saturday night into Sunday. In one video an officer pulls a flailing man to the ground, while one woman gasps “Oh my God!” and a man shouts “What is going on?”

Another video shared at least 123 times on Facebook features an officer taking down a man after the man waves an obscene gesture in the officer’s face. The yellow-shirted man waves a select finger in an officer’s face while walking by police, each holding a K9 leash.

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