The Public Safety Committee of the California Assembly has approved a new bill, Assembly Bill 742, that will prohibit the use of police canines for arrests, apprehensions, and crowd control.
The bill aims to address the racial bias and violence that people of color and Black Americans have experienced at the hands of police canines.
The proposed legislation, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the US, would still allow the use of police dogs for explosive detection, search and rescue operations, and narcotics searches, Fox News reports.
Assemblymen Corey Jackson and Ash Kalra introduced the bill, which seeks to end the use of police canines in a practice they say has been “deeply racialized, traumatic, and harmful.”
The authors of the bill argue that police dogs have been a violent tool of oppression against people of color for centuries, with roots tracing back to slavery
According to the bill’s text, police dogs have been used in brutal attempts to quell the Civil Rights Movement, the LA Race Riots, and in response to Black Lives Matter protests.
The ACLU California Action, a statewide advocacy organization of the American Civil Liberties Union, has co-sponsored the bill. “The use of police canines has severe and potentially deadly consequences for bite victims, especially communities of color,” said executive director of ACLU California Action Carlos Marquez III. “This bill sets a new standard for California and marks an important step in ending this inhumane practice.”
Thousands of people each year are injured so severely by police dogs they need emergency room treatment.
— ACLU California Action (@ACLU_CalAction) February 20, 2023
Carlos Marquez III, executive director of the organization, notes that the use of police canines has severe and potentially deadly consequences, particularly for communities of color.
He praises the bill as setting a new standard for California and taking a critical step towards ending the inhumane practice.
The California and Hawaii chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (CA/HI NAACP) co-authored the bill and emphasized its historical significance.
The NAACP believes that police dogs have been used as tools of oppression against black, brown, and other communities of color. Rick L. Callender, president of the CA/HI NAACP, states that the bill severs ties with a “terrorizing past” and moves towards a brighter future.
“Police canines have roots in slavery and have been used as tools of oppression for Black, Brown and other communities of color,” said Rick L. Callender, president of the CA/HI NAACP. “With this bill, we sever ties with the terrorizing past and move towards a brighter future.”