11:30 AM PT -- Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander tells TMZ ... the Salisbury PD's being assisted by an outside agency to conduct the probe "to ensure the review is impartial and provides an assessment of the incident that is complete, thorough, and fair."
We're told the review will include an assessment of the current policy and procedures regulating the PD's K-9 Program "to ensure they are appropriate and up-to-date with current police canine training and use practices."
The mayor added part of the review includes seeking expert input into the matter.
A cop in North Carolina is under fire for hanging a K-9 by its leash and slamming it into his squad car -- all while someone laughed and said, "We're good, no witnesses."
Luckily, this sick bastard was on camera -- unbeknownst to him -- and now the Salisbury Police Department has "administratively separated" him from the police dog, named Zuul. This video surfaced this week showing the cop manhandling the hell out of the K-9 he was supposed to be training.
Zuul had jumped out of his squad car during a training exercise, which apparently pissed off the cop. He immediately screamed for Zuul to stop, and he did. But, the cop then put a leash on him and hanged Zuul by it, slamming him into the side of the SUV, throwing him into the back seat and slapping him.
In the video you can also hear someone say they -- the cops -- are in the clear because there were no witnesses. It's unclear if that was said by the cop manhandling Zuul or another officer watching the incident.
Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes addressed the incident at a news conference with Zuul by his side. Stokes said it's conducting a review but couldn't comment because it's an open case. It's unclear if the cop was suspended.
Almost as shocking, Stokes seemed to defend the unnamed officer's actions, saying ... "Canine training tactics and corrective measures can sometimes be alarming out of context. SPD cannot and will not comment about whether the training tactics used in the video were appropriate, because that is still being reviewed."
Stokes claims Zuul -- now in the hands of a different police sergeant -- was not harmed and is healthy.