Law enforcement agencies in California would be prevented from using police K-9s from being put in situations where they could bite someone under a new bill being considered by state lawmakers in an effort to end a "deeply racialized and harmful practice," one of the bill's author's said.

Assemblymembers Corey Jackson and Ash Kalra said AB 742 could help end a practice with a troubling history involving Black communities and police dogs, they said during a Monday news conference. 

Under the bill, law enforcement would be prohibited from using police dogs in apprehensions, arrests and crowd control, according to the bill's text.


Police K-9

A K9 police officer with his dog. A new bill being considered in California would ban police agencies from using K-9s in situations where they could bite someone.  (iStock)

"The use of police canines has inflicted brutal violence and lifelong trauma on Black Americans and communities of color," Jackson said in a statement. "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."

The dogs could still be used to sniff out bombs, drugs and or other activities that don't involve biting. 

"We’re trying to make sure people are not harmed and seriously injured by using K9s," Jackson said. "Many of these bites can cause lifelong injuries. So let’s make this clear lifelong injuries before you’re proven guilty."

During the press conference to announce the bill, Kalra called the use of police dogs a practice "rooted in slavery."

"We can see during the time of our nation's history, whether it's the civil rights movement or to this day in Black and brown communities," he said. "This is an opportunity for us to continue to bring humanity to our criminal justice system."

Supporters of the bill cited harmful injuries inflicted on people for minor infractions. Some experts in police dog training and tactics believe the proposed legislation would have profound consequences. 

Police dogs

Police dogs have helped soldiers, police officers and other rescuers over the years.  (AP Photo)

"To me, it's a knee-jerk reaction," Bob Eden, a retired police K9 handler in Canada who trains and consults with law enforcement all over North America, told Fox San Francisco. "A lot of times we're dealing with violent people that won't submit otherwise or wouldn't be captured otherwise."


He added that police dogs often de-escalate situations before they are ever deployed and that "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."