All bark, no bite: Bill to ban police K9 officers blasted by Valley law enforcement

Arguing that utilizing police dogs is racist, a California lawmaker is pushing to ban their use in specific instances.

A new bill floating in the California State Legislature seeks to ban the use of police dogs, or K9 officers, for arrests, apprehensions, and crowd control.

The author, Asm. Corey Jackson (D-Perris), argues that banning the use of K9s in the public safety setting “aims to end a deeply racialized and harmful practice that has been a mainstay in America’s history of racial bias and violence against Black Americans and people of color.”


The big picture: While the law bans key uses for K9 officers in the field, it would still enable law enforcement agencies to “search and rescue, explosives detection, and narcotics detection that do not involve biting.”

  • Local law enforcement leaders argue that the current, holistic approach of K9 programs enable a decrease in the use of officer-led force, a key complaint of civil rights activists with regards to Golden State criminal justice.
  • Jackson, however, argues that there are no uniform standards behind police agencies’ K9 programs.

What they’re saying: Local law enforcement leaders in the San Joaquin Valley brushed back the measure, arguing it went too far and interfered in the ability to safely police California communities.

  • “They are vital to the safety of officers. They’re vital to searching buildings. They’re vital to keeping our community safe because the people that these dogs are going after are people that are violent, people that have committed serious crimes and people that are not following orders or commands of law enforcement and they’re resisting law enforcement,” Fresno County Sheriff John Zanoni told GV Wire.
  • “By eliminating the use of K9s in these areas, it will reduce safety for police officers and increase the likelihood of force. With the ability to smell 10,000 times better than humans, police K9s are an invaluable asset when locating hidden suspects and providing protection to both our officers and our community,” Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama said in a statement.
  • “[The K9 program] achieves safety for our officers to have those canines going to house and clear it out before officers’ lives are put at risk. And to take that tool away would be would be terrible. So I hope that doesn’t happen,” Clovis Police Chief Kurt Fleming said.
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