New Bill Seeks to Ban Police K-9s, But K-9 Handlers Push Back
On Monday, a bill was introduced to the California Assembly that would ban the use of police K-9s for arrests, apprehensions, and crowd control. The bill, AB 742, was introduced by Assemblymember Corey Jackson (D-Perris) who asserts that the use of police K-9s has been a mainstay in this country's dehumanization of Black and Brown people.
Jackson argues that the use of police canines has inflicted brutal violence and lifelong trauma on Black Americans and other people of color. The bill seeks to end the deeply racialized, traumatic, and harmful practice of using police canines and to build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
However, veterans in law enforcement K-9 handling don’t agree with the bill’s provisions. Ron Cloward, a retired lieutenant with the Modesto Police Department and president of the Western States Police Canine Association, said that removing police canines would be taking away a non-lethal weapon for law enforcement and that people don’t die from dog bites. He then explained that a police K-9 can be stopped whereas other weapons like pepper spray, guns, and tasers cannot.
Chief Chris Catren, President of the California Police Chiefs Association (CPCA) responded to the bill by saying that, “No one is arguing that irresponsible, criminal and negligent use of a canine is unacceptable, which is why we have such strict standards and laws on how and when canines can be used. But removing a non-lethal and highly effective law enforcement ally, which is used primarily to de-escalate and diffuse volatile scenarios, gravely hinders our police officers’ safety and ability to reduce the amount of force used in those circumstances. The fact is that canines reduce more force than they ever use and banning them goes too far.”
The bill has been introduced, but it remains to be seen if it will pass and become law. In the meantime, veterans in K-9 handling continue to argue that police canines are an important and necessary tool that should not be eliminated.
0. “New Bill Would End the Use Of Police K-9 Units” California Globe, 14 Feb. 2023, https://californiaglobe.com/articles/new-bill-would-end-the-use-of-police-k-9-units/
1. “‘It just makes no sense': Veteran K-9 handlers react to bill that takes aim at use of police dogs” KTVZ, 14 Feb. 2023, https://ktvz.com/cnn-regional/2023/02/14/it-just-makes-no-sense-veteran-k-9-handlers-react-to-bill-that-takes-aim-at-use-of-police-dogs/
2. “CA bill would prohibit use of police K9s for arrests and crowd control” ABC10.com KXTV, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.abc10.com/article/news/crime/ca-bill-police-k9-arrests-crowd-control/103-d56d1c40-5d6c-4792-a23f-4a7b94042756