Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Wednesday, March 29 @ 3:02 p.m. / Community, Crime
Del Norte Supes Oppose Bill That Would Limit K9 Use
Del Norte County supervisors followed in the Crescent City Council’s footsteps, opposing a state bill that would ban police from using unleashed dogs to arrest or apprehend subjects.
Assembly Bill 742 would take valuable resources away from law enforcement, Undersheriff Devon Perry said, thanking elected officials for their vote Tuesday.
“With the ever increasing level and number of violent felons and police contact with those individuals, taking away resources from law enforcement is counterproductive and is also going to pose more of a threat to the community and officers themselves,” he said.
Riverside Assemblyman Corey Jackson introduced AB 742 in February, stating that the use of police dogs has “inflicted brutal violence and lifelong trauma on Black Americans and communities of color.”
The American Civil Liberties Union California Action and California-Hawaii NAACP are cosponsors.
In its letter to Jackson, the Board of Supervisors said in addition to using canine officers to respond to “public safety threats,” they’re brought into schools for demonstrations, participate in community events and search for narcotics and missing persons.
“They are used in various circumstances that do not pertain to ‘touching a suspect. Canines have a remarkable sense of smell. Coupled with their heightened senses with their speed and agility, canine officers can be extremely valuable in tracking and apprehending a suspect and removing that threat to the general public,” the county’s letter stated.
District 2 Supervisor Valerie Starkey said she appreciated that the letter reflected the assembly bill in that canines could still be used for community events, school demonstrations and searches.
District 5 Supervisor Dean Wilson, who was Del Norte County Sheriff until 2014, said a well trained dog is a tremendous asset.
“But restricting them to be on a lead is counter productive,” Wilson said. “Those K9s are utilized to go into dangerous situations whether it’s pursuit of a fleeing suspect, whether it’s a search in the woods, whether it’s a search through a house. They go where the officer doesn’t have to go. We put the animal at risk so the officers don’t have to be at risk.”
Wilson echoed Crescent City Police Chief Richard Griffin stating that if the assembly bill passed, it would put officers at risk.
The Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office has one K9, Officer Zuko.
The Crescent City Police Department’s ranks include Sgt. Kostya and Lt. Kai.