A California Assembly bill that would have treated police use of K-9s for apprehension as deadly force was made inactive Wednesday, meaning it cannot be voted on this year. The bill faced strong opposition from law enforcement leaders and law enforcement supporters, and it reportedly did not have the votes to move forward.
Assembly Bill 742 would have prohibited police unleashing K-9s for apprehension or crowd control except in cases of imminent threat of severe bodily harm or death, effectively making a dog bite the same level on the use-of-force continuum as deadly force. The bill would not have affected police use of K-9s in operations such as drug detection, evidence detection, explosive detection, and search and rescue.
Advocates of the bill say authorities have historically used dogs against Black and Brown people, and AB 742 would end that traumatic practice. Police say the dogs de-escalate situations, and restricting use of the specially-trained animals could lead to more shootings by officers, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Assemblymember Corey Jackson proposed the bill, which was supported by the American Civil Liberties Union California Action. His office told the Union-Tribune that he hopes to work with police agencies to reintroduce it next year.
The California Police Chiefs Association said Tuesday the bill would “decimate” police canine programs, and said the dogs help to de-escalate potentially deadly situations.
President of the California Police Chiefs Association, Chief Alex Gammelgard issued a statement on AB 742. He said, “De-escalation is the number one priority for our officers facing hostile situations, which is why our canines play such an important role. In the overwhelming majority of deployments, canines result in the suspect’s compliance without any need for force. Not allowing canines except in situations as drastic as those requiring the immediate use of a firearm shows a lack of understanding of their comprehensive value and complete disregard for community safety.”