Home>Articles>Bill To Restrict Usage Of Police K-9 Units Passes Assembly Committee

Assemblyman Corey Jackson (Photo: a60.asmdc.org)

Bill To Restrict Usage Of Police K-9 Units Passes Assembly Committee

‘Police dogs save lives and bring people to justice, and this bill just wants to pretend that doesn’t happen’

By Evan Symon, May 20, 2023 2:50 am

A bill to end the use of police K-9 units, also known as police units involving trained police dogs, in many criminal situations was passed by the Assembly Appropriations Committee this week, albeit in a heavily amended form and with a growing number of lawmakers opposing it.

Assembly Bill 742, authored by Assemblyman Corey Jackson (D-Moreno Valley), would specifically end the use of K-9 units for arrest, apprehension, and crowd control. As the bill has yet to be fully submitted, it is unknown what, if any, exceptions there are, such as if a K-9 unit is on an emergency call or if there are a shortage of regular units. AB 742 would not ban K-9 units entirely, as they would still be allowed for search and rescue, explosive detection, and narcotic detection that does not include the use of biting.

In addition, amendments made since the bill was introduced in February have opened the door for many exceptions. This has included changing language from, “It is the intent of the Legislature to prevent the use of police canines for the purpose of arrest, apprehension, or any form of crowd control” to, “It is the intent of the Legislature to prevent the use of police canines for any form of crowd control, or to arrest or apprehend a person except to avoid the use of deadly force or to defend against a lethal threat by the person.”

It also radically changed not using dogs to apprehend anyone under any circumstances to allowing multiple exceptions, such as tracking down those with felonies who hurt or killed others. And the bill replaced a total ban on allowing the dog to bite to granting numerous exceptions.

While Jackson authored AB 742 in response to the high number of injuries reported with police dogs, as well as the claimed historical use of K-9 units disproportionately against African-Americans and other people of color, the bill received a lot of backlash early on, especially from police groups who insisted that they needed to have dogs to help apprehend suspects.

With the bill looking dead in the water, Jackson hurriedly amended the bill.

An Amended AB 742

Despite the changes, however, many have continued to oppose the bill. This was heard in the Public Safety Committee vote in March, as well as the Appropriations vote this week in which it passed 11-4, albeit with many reservations and strong signals that the Senate would have even more lawmakers and law enforcement members come out to vote against the bill.

“I am about looking at the tools that we have, and how we can use those tools better,” said Folsom police Chief Rick Hillman in a statement on Thursday. “And seeing what’s the right thing and the right fit for our communities. And having canines in our community is a good thing. We pick dogs ensuring their temperament is right for us and our community. K-9s are essential and this bill would do more damage and more harm than good.”

Others also noted that, even with the amendments, the bill was still extremely restrictive on law enforcement and likely would come into conflict against the law.

“This has been an extremely slapdash bill, ” former police officer and K-9 unit member Ronald Davis told the Globe Friday. “The amendments help some, but this is still really working against the police from doing their jobs. Police dogs save lives and bring people to justice, and this bill just wants to pretend that doesn’t happen. Can dogs get rough? Yes, but police dogs are specially trained. They’ll take down suspects and do as little injury as possible in order to bring them into custody. Dogs are usually the last resort anyway.”

“And don’t forget that, even if this does pass, there are so many other laws around this that any court challenge will immediately invalidate this bill. Whoever thought this bill up did not do their homework and were writing this this based on feelings rather than reality. They really needed to work with law enforcement on this one to create something reasonable. But they didn’t.

AB 742 is expected to be up in the Assembly for a vote soon.

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7 thoughts on “Bill To Restrict Usage Of Police K-9 Units Passes Assembly Committee

  1. Oh so glad to see AB 742 —- the attempt to get rid of vital police dog K-9 units —- brought to our attention again, now that it has advanced in the assembly. We must speak up about this bill. We cannot lose our K-9 officers! They are important to the safe apprehension of suspects and to the safety of officers alike. This attempt to get rid of them, by Asm Corey Jackson, is nothing more than a Dem/Marxist race-baiting ploy from Jackson et al to win needed Dem votes and favor by stirring up resentment with falsehoods and mischaracterizations. (Speaking of Approp Committees and suspense files! — see Chris Micheli’s neighboring article — it looks as though in applying that trick the Dems were hoping we’d forget about this one?)
    Please find and contact your state assembly (assembly first) and senator representatives to oppose. Short-and-sweet (and civil) contacts are all that is necessary and can be done and out of your hair in a couple of minutes. AB 742.
    Senate link posted below.

    1. Thank goodness someone is speaking up and using some common sense. Assembly bill AB742 is insane. The dogs are amazing and a highly effective tool.A tool that greatly increases officers safety, encourages compliance, and helps with de-escalation; a tool that can deter the use of harmful narcotics, as well as, provide a unique connection for community oriented connection. Please do all you can to nullify this bill.

  2. This ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ approach is based on poorly developed, inaccurate data (they assessed ALL dog bite treated in hospitals NOT police K9 related hospitalizations. Garbage data in = bad laws out. In reality, very few are seriously injured by a police dog apprehension.
    Fine, fix the policy to define K9 deployment criteria to include SERIOUS CRIME but removing this widely used, invaluable asset from police is a huge mistake! This should adamantly be opposed.

    1. Thank you Mr, Scott for your realistic view on use of the Police dogs. Numerous, hours are spent in training the Police dogs and their handlers. Not to just randomly go out and bite people, but to quickly and carefully assess a situation and act responsible. These Police dogs and their handlers are an incredable tools we must continue to support.

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