California Democrats and activists are working to outlaw multiple uses of police K-9s in the state, citing claims of present and historical racism.
Assembly Bill 742, introduced on February 13 by Democratic Assemblymembers Corey Jackson (Perris) and Ash Kalra (San Jose), would end the use of K-9 units for arrest, apprehension, and crowd control. Police dogs would still be permitted in other situations, such as explosives detection and search and rescue missions.
“From the brutal attempts to quell the Civil Rights movement, Black Lives Matter protests, and their day-to-day use in law enforcement, police K-9s remain a gross misuse of force and victimize black and brown people, disproportionately,” Jackson said during a press conference announcing the bill last week. “The need for AB 742 is apparent, not only through a historic perspective but also through the clear racial disparities we see every year.”
In a press release, the assemblyman cited research that said that black and Latino individuals are more likely to be involved in K-9 apprehensions. According to Jackson, 65% of those seriously injured by police dogs in 2021 were “people of color.”
Jackson said using police dogs for matters such as apprehensions of suspects has racist roots back to the days of slavery, noting that AB 742’s role is largely meant to remedy past racial wrongs.
“I’m always looking for ways to atone for the past,” the Democrat said. “How do we get out systemic racism? How do we get out racism in our narratives? And how do we make sure that we erase practices that are currently being done today that were originated and perfected on our ancestors?”
Jackson went as far as to quote black nationalist Malcolm X, saying that “the white man has traded in white sheets for police badges and K9s.”
Unsurprisingly, there’s been much pushback against the bill, particularly from law enforcement. Officials have underscored the critical role K-9s play in keeping law enforcement safe and protecting suspects from potential deadly force; they see the bill as counterproductive to its aim.
Sheriff Mark Lamb, of Pinal County in Arizona, told OAN last week that he’s “absolutely seen cases where lethal force would have been justified, and was likely going to be used next had the [police] dog not been effective.”
“The dogs are extremely valuable,” Sheriff Lamb continued. “And the fact that they want to take this away seems to be contradicting what they want across this country, which is more and more reform. So, I can’t understand what they’re trying to do.”
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Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb weighs in on the proposed California bill that would ban K9 units from making arrests with police dogs.@DanNewsManBall #RealAmerica #Conservative #TalkShow #OAN pic.twitter.com/B693dwZCmR
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Factions of both the ACLU and the NAACP support AB 742. The measure could be heard in committee as early as next month.