We join the ACLU not to win easy fights but to take on the important ones, even when they prove hard and take time.
On Tuesday, we learned the California Assembly shelved a bill to restrict police attack dogs in our state, meaning this campaign may prove to be a bit more challenging—and necessitating a need for us to take a moment this morning to reflect on our values and step up our commitment to this work.
We know that in just the last few years, police have used attack dogs to injure hundreds of people across California so badly that these individuals faced a significant risk of death or permanent impairment of a body part.
We are not talking about your neighborhood pet dogs here. Police attack dogs are bred, selected, and trained to bite with a power far greater than that of a typical dog. The jaws of a police dog have enough force to break through sheet metal. And police cannot reliably control these animals, which are known to fail to stop attacking when recalled and even to maul bystanders.
Despite the dangers posed by police dogs, there are no statewide or national standards to govern their use.
The police most commonly use attack dogs to inflict severe injuries on people who pose no serious danger to officers or to others. In fact, the vast majority of Californians severely injured by police attack dogs are not armed with any weapons. Statewide, two-thirds of Californians severely injured by police dogs are people of color.
California police departments have repeatedly obscured or denied accurate reporting data on attack dog incidents, meaning the existing state data sources do not fully capture the extent of brutality involving attack dogs in our state.
We cannot allow law enforcement to write their own weak rules for this dangerous practice. ACLU California Action is committed to working in partnership with lawmakers to make strict statewide solutions, codified in law, to govern and restrict the use of police attack dogs.