Bites from sheriff’s K-9 units increase for blacks, Latinos
Bites from K-9 units rose 33% for blacks, 30% for Latinos from 2004 to 2012, study finds. This year, 100% have been to Latinos and blacks.
By Ruben Vives
The number of minorities bitten by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department canines has increased in the last few years, according to a study released Monday.
The annual number of dog bites of whites, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans remained low from 2004 through 2012, but similar incidents involving African Americans and Latinos increased in the same period, according to the report.
Researchers noted that the vast majority of canine deployments occurred in high-crime areas. However, authors of the semiannual study have previously recommended that the department focus on the disparities.
The study is the 33rd semiannual report released by Merrick Bobb, president of the Police Assessment Resource Center, a nonprofit group. Bobb was retained as a special counsel to the county Board of Supervisors after a 1992 report highlighted a series of problems in the department.
The report released Monday also examined disciplinary procedures regarding sheriff’s deputies.
The latest study, according to the monitor, was prompted by the increasing number of people who were apprehended during a canine deployment.
“In the first six months of this year, 100% of the dog bites were of blacks and Latinos,” the report stated, adding that a total of 17 dog bites had been reported up to June.
According to the report, the number of Latinos bitten by dogs increased 30% from 30 bites in 2004 to 39 in 2012. Similarly, the number of blacks bitten increased 33% for the same time period, from 9 to 12.
Researchers reviewed the department’s canine deployment policies, use of force reports for dog bites and accidental bites that resulted in monetary settlements.
The report showed that five sheriff’s stations — Century, Lennox, Compton, Lakewood and City of Industry — had the highest number of bites, more than all the other 21 stations combined. The stations with the lowest dog bites were in more affluent areas, such as Marina del Rey and West Hollywood.
The report cited a lack of supervision of the department’s canine detail as one reason for the increase.
Researchers recommended that the department improve canine deployment policies, employ alternative use-of-force measures, and track bite incidents for individual dogs and handlers.