A Perris state legislator has introduced a bill to ban the use of police dogs in certain situations, arguing that it disproportionately affects people of color.
“When you look at the data it’s obvious there is a problem,” Assemblyman Corey Jackson said.
Jackson added that new data in California’s use of force report shows an alarming trend. According to data, 12 percent of all use-of-force incidents resulting in serious injury or death involved law enforcement K-9s.
“Nearly two-thirds of all people seriously injured or killed by police K-9s in California were Black or Latino,” Jackson said.
To address this problem, Jackson co-authored legislation to limit the use of police dogs.
“We’re starting to see that using them for arrest enforcement and crowd control may be a step too far,” he said.
However, the bill has received criticism, especially from those who train dogs.
“What’s the alternative? Someone lying in a morgue with a gunshot wound?” said retired police lieutenant Ron Cloward, who now runs a K-9 training business.
He added that police dogs are anything but a lethal tool.
“Once you give out pepper spray, it’s been given out. Once you use your gun, it’s gone,” Cloward said. “The only thing you can stop is a K-9.”
Jackson believes dogs shouldn’t be used as a weapon.
“I agree they are very good at what they are trained to do,” the assemblyman said. “But the problem is, from a moral point of view, is that why we should use them?”
According to the state’s 2021 Use of Force report, there were 628 incidents resulting in serious injury or death, 77 of which involved a K-9.
“Whether it’s nerve damage, in some cases people are losing an eyeball or a testicle or something else right,” Jackson said. “One lifelong injury and you have yet to be proven guilty of anything.”
Jackson added that the United States has a history with the K-9 that cannot be ignored.
“We saw it clearly in Bloody Sunday and other places in the civil rights movement where dogs were being used to suppress civil rights achievements,” Jackson said. “We have to understand that it has had a traumatic effect on millions of people.”