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30 May, 2024
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California: Use of police dogs to be curbed due to racial bias

California would be the first state to adopt this type of restriction on police dog use if the bill is passed

Source: Fox News

The California Assembly's Public Safety Committee has approved a bill that would ban the use of police dogs for arrests, apprehensions and crowd control, apparently a first-in-the-country measure. The authors of the bill cited the need for the removal of police dogs due to racial bias and violence against Black Americans and people of color.

The legislation would not prevent the use of police dogs for search and rescue, explosives detection and narcotics searches.

The bill, introduced by Democrat Assemblymen Corey Jackson and Ash Kalra is designed to "end a deeply racialized traumatic and harmful practice by prohibiting the use of police canines," Jackson said in a statement.

"The use of police canines has been a mainstay in this country’s dehumanizing, cruel, and violent abuse of Black Americans and people of color for centuries." AB 742 states. "First used by slave catchers, police canines are a violent carry-over from America’s dark past. In recent decades, they have been used in brutal attempts to quell the Civil Rights Movement, the LA Race Riots, and in response to Black Lives Matter protests."

ACLU California Action, a statewide advocacy organization of the American Civil Liberties Union, co-sponsored the bill.

"The use of police canines has severe and potentially deadly consequences for bite victims, especially communities of color," said Carlos Marquez III, executive director of ACLU California Action. "This bill sets a new standard for California and marks an important step in ending this inhumane practice."

The California and Hawaii chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (CA/HI NAACP) also co-authored the bill and highlighted the historical significance of the legislation, if passed.

"Police canines have roots in slavery and have been used as tools of oppression for Black, Brown and other communities of color," said Rick L. Callender, president of the CA/HI NAACP. "With this bill, we sever ties with the terrorizing past and move towards a brighter future."

AB 742 notes that police dog bites resulted in hospital visits 67.5% of the time while other uses of force, like batons and tasers, resulted in hospital visits 22% of the time or less.

Jackson and Kalra argue that injuries related to K-9s disproportionally affect Black people more than other racial groups in America.

"Black people are more than two times more likely than any other group to be subjected to this use of force," according to AB 742.

AB 742 now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee before consideration on the Assembly floor. If it passes the Assembly and state Senate and is signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, California would apparently be the first state to adopt this type of restriction on police dog use.

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