SACRAMENTO, Calif. (TND) — A pair of California state lawmakers are proposing legislation that seeks to end the "deeply racialized and harmful practice" of allowing police dogs to bite suspected criminals.
Assemblyman Dr. Corey A. Jackson and Assemblyman Ash Kalra introduced the "groundbreaking" bill on Monday, according to a press release from Jackson's office. The bill is currently labeled "AB 742."
If passed, the bill would prohibit the use of police dogs for "arrest, apprehension, and crowd control," the release says.
The use of police canines has inflicted brutal violence and lifelong trauma on Black Americans and communities of color," Assemblymember Dr. Corey A. Jackson says in the release. "This bill marks a turning point in the fight to end this cruel and inhumane practice and build trust between the police and the communities they serve."
Jackson's press release notes that the proposed legislation would still allow police dogs to be used for search and rescue missions, detecting explosives and detecting narcotics. All of those activities don't "involve" biting, Jackson's press release says.
Included in the press release are statements from groups that are co-sponsoring the bill. Both ACLU California Action and the CA/HI NAACP apparently support the legislation, and offered comments on the practice of letting police dogs bite people.
The use of police canines has severe and potentially deadly consequences for bite victims, especially communities of color," Carlos Marquez III, Executive Director of ACLU California Action, said in his statement. "This bill sets a new standard for California and marks an important step in ending this inhumane practice."
Police canines have roots in slavery and have been used as tools of oppression for Black, Brown, and other communities of color," Rick L. Callender, ESQ., President of the CA/HI NAACP, added in the release. "With this bill, we sever ties with the terrorizing past and move towards a brighter future."
A press conference was held introducing Jackson and Kalra's proposed legislation on Monday.
A retired police K9 handler named Bob Eden, who reportedly trains and consults with police departments all across the United States, told Fox San Francisco that he believes the bill is a "knee-jerk reaction."
A lot of times we're dealing with violent people that won't submit otherwise or wouldn't be captured otherwise," Eden reportedly explained.
Not only do police dogs often de-escalate situations, Eden told Fox San Francisco, but they actively deter violence against police officers.
The number of dogs that are on the street reduce the number of assaults on officers and the number of officer involved shootings, which ultimately would also probably save the life of a number of suspects that otherwise would have been on the receiving end of gunfire," Eden reportedly added.