Reports suggest that police dog bites have cost one state over $1 million. Misunderstood cues from handlers have reportedly caused “major injuries” to 17 people in Washington state.
K-9 patrol police dogs have been blamed for biting and causing serious harm to at least 17 people in just one state. Damages rewarded as a result of the injuries have cost the state over $1 million.
Experts warn that the increasing issue is due to insufficient training. K-9 patrol dogs are usually assigned to specific officers, who train with the dog. As discussed by Seattle.gov, patrol dogs are trained to track suspects, detect bombs or drugs, and assist officers. Trained dogs have become useful in law enforcement,as they can perform many tasks that human officers simply cannot.
K-9 patrol dogs are trained to react to specific commands which, unfortunately, can be miscued by handlers or misunderstood by the dogs.
The “bite and hold” command, which instructs the dog to bite and continue holding a suspect, may have contributed to the severity of the police dog bites in Washington. The bites, which have cost the state over $1 million, were more severe as the dog will not release the suspect until it receives a second cue from the handler.
As reported by the Seattle Times, other methods, such as “find and bark” and “bark and contain” are an option, but are rarely utilized. Law enforcement agencies have found the “bite and hold” command to be most effective and efficient when tracking a suspect. Unfortunately, the command has led to the biting and holding of innocent bystanders.
Ideally, anyone being bitten by a police dog should stop moving and wait for the handler cue the dog to release. Unfortunately, the dog may have tracked a “suspect” several hundred feet sway from the handler, causing a delay in the release. A similar situation led to a lawsuit that may end up costing the Lakewood Police Department over $3 million.
This is just one example, in one state. Agencies across the country are utilizing K9 patrol dogs. If police dogs bites have cost one state over $1 million, the total cost nationwide could be outrageous. It might cost less for law enforcement to spend more time and money to ensure proper training for the dogs and the handlers.
[Image via Wikimedia]