But the state’s Department of Public Safety and Corrections admitted that the four employees had used “poor judgement” in taking the controversial picture after tracking down the suspect.
The picture, in which the four officers with dogs were smiling next to a shirtless Eric Boykin, sparked controversy with critics saying it looked like they were showing off a hunting trophy.
Authorities say that the team was from the Rayburn Correctional Center in Washington Parish, Louisiana, and that they had been called in to help with the search by police in Prentiss, Mississippi.
Ashraf Esmail, an associate professor of criminal justice at Dillard University, slammed the optics of the picture.
“It brings about the history of slavery when you think about hunting of African Americans at one time,” he told WWL-TV.
“With the issue of law enforcement and racial justice this past year, it really gives off a very, very bad optic.”
Mr Boykin, of Gulfport, remains in the Jefferson Davis County Jail, charged with armed robbery and being a felon in possession of a weapon.
Initial reports of the arrest had incorrectly stated that the team was from the Prentiss Police Department, which was leading the search for the suspect and requested additional law enforcement assistance.
Officials say that although the picture was inappropriate, the officers, who have not been named by DPSC, had not broken any rules, and the situation will now be used as a training tool for its employees.
“The picture should not have been taken, it was poor judgement. We regret that it happened and will use this incident for sensitivity training for our staff,” said a spokesperson for DPSC.
Michael McClanahan, president of the Louisiana NAACP, said that the arrest of a suspect accused of a serious crime was not a photo opportunity for law enforcement.
“It’s not becoming of a professional law enforcement officer because I know too many of them. They don’t do that. It sends a wrong message,” he said.