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California Police Dogs Disproportionately Attack People of Color

A new report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) revealed California law enforcement often unnecessarily use police dogs to inflict severe injuries on people of color. 

According to KGET News, the ACLU report largely examined “outdated and dangerous” practices by law enforcement officials across the state. Specifically, the organizations studied the misuse of K-9s.  

In their analysis, they found 89% of police dog attacks in Bakersfield — in 2020 alone — targeted Black and Latino residents. According to the ACLU study, these attacks left victims with either permanent body impairments or a significant risk of death. 

As per the report’s findings, the Bakersfield Police Department mostly clusters their K-9s in communities where there are predominantly people of color. Although the report covers many other areas, California is the most cited. Evidently, this highlights the need for stricter regulations governing the use of police canines across the state. 

ACLU unveils shocking revelations on police dog attacks across California

The ACLU report captured a worrying pattern of racialized police canine attacks in other cities across California:

  • In Sacramento, 43% of police dog attacks target Black individuals, despite them constituting only 14% of the city’s population.
  • In San Jose, 14% of K-9 bite victims are Black, contrasting with the city’s 3% Black population.
  • 54% of recorded police canine attacks in Richmond were against Black residents, who make up 18.4% of the city’s population. 
  • 61% of people attacked by K-9s in Fairfield were Black, even though Black people make up 16% of the city’s population. 

In addition, the ACLU report found California police officers often use their dogs to threaten and attack those exhibiting behavioral or mental health crises during arrest. Moreover, the report indicates law enforcement doesn’t adequately control their K-9s.

Last but not least, the ACLU makes clear California police policies don’t reflect accountability. As a result, officers get away with their discriminatory acts when they use police canines to harm people of color. 


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