This is a line by line analysis of of AB742, in its latest form, citing the opinion of Robert S. Eden. CV available on request. Text in bold font is the writers opinion. Text in italics is the original document of the bill as it has been published by the writers of the bill. For more detailed information on AB742 please visit https://katsplatinum.com/california-bill-ab742
AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY MAY 18, 2023
AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY MARCH 15, 2023
california legislature—2023–24 regular session
ASSEMBLY BILL No. 742
Introduced by Assembly Member Jackson (Coauthors: Assembly Members Kalra, Bryan,
and Lee) Lee, and
February 13, 2023
An act to add Section 13653 to the Penal Code, relating to law enforcement.
legislative counsel’s digest AB 742, as amended, Jackson. Law enforcement: police canines.
Existing law authorizes a peace officer to use reasonable force to effect the arrest, to prevent escape, or to overcome resistance of an individual. Existing law requires law enforcement agencies to maintain a policy on the use of force.
Existing law prohibits the use of kinetic energy projectiles or chemical agents by any law enforcement agency to disperse any assembly, protest, or demonstration, except in compliance with specified standards.
This bill would prohibit the use of an unleashed police canine by law enforcement to apprehend a
person, person unless the person is being pursued for a felony that threatened or resulted in the death of or serious bodily injury to another person and the person poses an imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or to another person and any use of a police canine for crowd control. The bill would prohibit a police canine from being used to bite unless there is an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or another person by the person against whom the canine is used. The bill would attribute the death of or serious bodily injury to a person caused by a police canine to the canine‘s handler as constituting deadly force.
The argument that dogs are deadly force has been brought before the courts for decades. Never, in any case, including cases that resulted in the death of a suspect, which is extremely rare, did the courts come to the conclusion that dogs were considered deadly force. Legislators who are trying to push this bill through are going against the wisdom of the courts, including the courts in their own district. Some cases that can easily be found are:
Robinette v Barnes - United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit published Aug 22, 1988
Chew v Gates - United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit published Jun 27, 1994
Vera Cruz v City of Escondido - United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit published October 1997
Miller v Clark County - United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit published August 2003
The bill would prohibit law enforcement agencies from authorizing any use or training of a police canine that is inconsistent with this bill.
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes.
State-mandated local program: no.
The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
1 SECTION 1. (a) The use of police canines has been a mainstay
2 in this country’s dehumanizing, cruel, and violent abuse of Black
3 Americans and people of color for centuries. First used by slave
4 catchers, police canines are a violent
carry-over carryover from
5 America’s dark past. In recent decades, they have been used in
6 brutal attempts to quell the Civil Rights Movement, the LA Race
7 Riots, and in response to Black Lives Matter protests. The use of
8 police canines
make makes people fear and further distrust the
9 police, resulting in less safety and security for all, especially for
10 communities of color.
11 (b) The use of police canines has severe and potentially deadly
12 consequences for bite victims. In a Police Assessment Resource
13 Center study of police canine bites, researchers found that bites
14 resulted in hospital visits 67.5 percent of the time. In contrast,
15 other uses of force, including batons and tasers, resulted in hospital
16 visits 22 percent of the time or less. These same researchers found
This statement is a red herring. As a matter of policy, in most agencies, any contact by a police dog will normally result in ensuring the arrested suspect is taken for treatment to the hospital to ensure the wounds are cleaned and dressed. This is a necessary precaution to ensure that any potential scratch or open wound caused by the K9 apprehension is properly cleaned and dressed. Having said that, even in the cases where there may only be a slight scratch or abrasion, most police policies err on the side of caution and require any suspect contacted by a dog to be taken for a medical clearance, regardless of how slight the injury may be.
In cases of baton strikes there is rarely, if ever any open wounds that need to be dressed, and with taser deployments the probes are simply pulled out, leaving nothing more than a minor wound on the subject that is of little consequence and more often than not does not require any treatment and nothing more than a bandaid. In such cases, they too are often taken to the hospital for a medical clearance, even though it may not be needed. It is done out of a matter of policy to ensure the suspect is given medical care, no matter how slight the injury.
There are injuries that can and do occur with police dog bites that can be severe. However, in the vast majority of cases, those injuries are the result of an extended confrontation with a suspect who will not submit to arrest, even with a dog biting them to attain pain compliance.
Further still there are those injuries that do occur that are aberrations, however they are few in number compared to the number of physical apprehensions done by police dogs.
17 that police canine bites led to permanent physical disfigurement
18 and injuries to bones, blood vessels, nerves, breasts, testicles, faces,
19 noses, and eyes, sometimes causing blindness.
Nowhere in this bill are the sources of these claims identified. While there is no doubt some of these injuries may have occurred, lacking details and evidence of these events it is difficult to determine the circumstances. Even so, such injuries are rare given the vast number of police dog deployments that are initiated every day.
There is no perfect solution to apprehending suspects who commit crime and flee crime scenes, however police dogs used for apprehension do make a significant difference by reducing the frequency for the necessity of the use of lethal force.
20 (c) Per the California Department of Justice Use of Force data
21 from 2021, injuries caused by police canines accounted for nearly
22 12 percent of cases that resulted in severe injury or death. Of these
This statement is a serious misdirection. In fact, it can be considered patently false. The California Department of Justice Use of Force data from 2021 actually shows injuries and deaths that are from all law enforcement related uses of force including firearms. Specific injuries are not specified, and this generalized statement includes all uses of force together without separating use of force types to related deaths.
The writers of AB742 have used this general statement, and used it to infer that deaths by K9 occurred during this reporting period. This is patently false. There were no deaths in California as the result of K9 deployments at the time of this report.
23 cases, Black people are more than two times more likely than any
24 other group to be subjected to this use of force.
This is a false statement. When carefully scrutinized, there is nothing in the report that shows that the black community is twice as likely to be subjected to K9 use of force as any other demographic. In fact, on page 35 of the report the table, when the numbers are calculated, show that K9 Contacts for the Hispanic demographic at 10.8%, the Black demographic at 11% and the White demographic at 16%.
By the DOJ stats, K9 contact on the black community is very close to equal of that of the Hispanic and below the White demographic, contrary to the quote in AB742 that claims to obtain its information from this report that the black community is subjected to the use of force at twice the rate of other groups.
This information is a false statement by the writers of the bill. On page 2 of their stated source of information in paragraph 3 in the left hand column the DOJ report states very clearly, "Of the 660 civilians, 50.6 percent (334) were Hispanic, 25.5 percent (168) were white, and 16.7 percent (110) were black." These figures are also found on Table 7 in the report.
This is further borne out in stats pulled from the K9 Activity Tracking System for the state of California. Statistics for agencies from California that use the K9 Activity Tracking System to monitor their training and deployment data show the Hispanic demographic at 12.4%, the Black demographic at 9.3% and the White demographic at 11.6%.
The statement appears to come from a report written and published on the Berkely School of Journalism site that was done on policing in the city of Richmond, California in 2021and originally published in the San Jose Mercury that concluded that: Black people are disproportionate targets. More than half of those bitten by police dogs were described in police reports as Black, among the 65 cases in which a person’s race was noted, although they make up only 20% of Richmond’s population.
However, while the reporter chose to use a 20% population to determine the “extreme” level of black community members who were bitten by police dogs, the elephant in the room is that there is no mention of what percentage of active crime was being committed by the black community compared to other demographic groups.
Further, the reporters even went to the Marshal Project for information, an organization that is actively anti-police and anti-police dog, and found that even there, the numbers showed that Richmond was an aberration from the norm. These are the “facts” that the writers of the bill are using to justify it, all from sources that are clearly anti-police and not truly legitimate sources.
What is not taken into account is the racial disparity in some areas occurs because most violent crime and gang violence happens in black and Latino communities. The most recent information provided by the National Gang Center website show the ethnic breakdown of gangs as 46 percent Hispanic/Latino gang members, 35 percent African-American/black gang members, more than 11 percent white gang members, and 7 percent other race/ethnicity of gang members.
Are legislators looking at the California DOJ report themselves or are they taking the writers of the bill at their word? Are any legislators seeking to find and vet the sources and claims the writers have made in this bill? If they do, they will find that the information being used is either patently false, or from questionable sources.
25 SEC. 2. Section 13653 is added to the Penal Code, to read:
26 13653. (a) It is the intent of the Legislature to prevent the use
27 of police canines for
the purpose of arrest, apprehension, or any
form of crowd control. any form of crowd control, or to arrest or
29 apprehend a person except to avoid the use of deadly force or to
30 defend against a lethal threat by the person.
While the stated intent of this bill is to restrict the use of police dogs unless they are used to avoid the use of deadly force is an oxymoron as it will by its very nature increase the number of officer involved shootings. It will also result in an increase in deaths of police officers and suspects.
1 (b) A peace officer shall not use an unleashed police canine to
2 arrest or apprehend a
person. person unless the person is being
3 pursued for a felony that threatened or resulted in the death of or
4 serious bodily injury to another person and the person poses an
5 imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury to the officer
6 or to another person.
Police dogs apprehend tens of thousands of suspects each year who commit serious crimes that do not involve threats of death or serious bodily injury to other persons. A significant number of those suspects would never have been brought to justice had it not been for the deployment of well-trained police dogs. Refer to my comments below for section (d). In this section, the lawmakers require that officers must be in a position of imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury before using the dog to intervene.
This is unreasonable and inhumane in that it puts officers in the untenable situation of allowing themselves to wait until their potential death is ultimately imminent before responding, and the only response at this point is not the use of a police dog, but the use of a firearm. A well-trained police dog handled properly can be used to either deescalate the situation before a confrontation occurs, or can often apprehend a secreted suspect waiting to ambush officers before the suspect has an opportunity to attack.
Lawmakers seem to lack the understanding that the criminal suspect that is being pursued always has the upper hand against pursuing officers. He/she decides when and where they will make their stand. Well trained police dogs are powerful tools that prevents these situations from escalating into lethal force situations.
7 (c) A police canine shall not be used for crowd control at any
8 assembly, protest, or demonstration.
Police rarely if ever use police dogs for the purposes of crowd control. The writers are leaning on historical circumstances using race baiting as an excuse to include this in the bill. The lack of the ability to use police dogs in crowd control situations was quite apparent during the black lives matter riots that resulted in many more deaths and billions of dollars in property loss. Regardless of the extreme chaos and deaths resulting from this movement and the riots that ensued, there was no situations that I am aware of where police dogs were used to quell the riots or to assist in protecting officers or citizens during these times. This section will not make a significant impact, if any on modern day policing methods.
9 (d) A police canine shall not be used
in any circumstance to
bite. to bite in any circumstance unless there is an imminent threat
11 of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or another person
12 by the person against whom the canine is used.
Realities of policing are such that when locating suspects who have fled crimes scenes, said suspects are frequently armed and extremely dangerous. When in flight the suspect will choose where he/she will hide. The suspect chooses the place for a potential ambush on pursuing officers. These actions dictate what actions are ultimately taken by police. If on approach the suspect comes out of hiding and surrenders, everything ends peacefully. However if the suspect remains secreted, the officers will often have no idea of the race of the individual, what the individuals intentions are, or if the suspect is armed or not. The actions of the suspect dictate the actions of the officers.
If the officers are bound by section (d), they will forced to wait until they are in imminent danger of being shot or have already been shot at. When this occurs, it is no longer a K9 application. It is a lethal force situation as a matter of personal survival. This section will ultimately put officers at risk and will result in more officer involved shootings and the deaths of those who the writers of the bill appear to be attempting to protect.
13 (e) The death of or serious bodily injury to a person caused by
14 a police canine constitutes deadly force, as defined in Section
15 835a, attributable to the canine’s handler.
The use of police dogs has been argued in the courts many times, and carefully considered by the courts for decades. The use of police dogs has never been considered deadly force. A number of these cases were determined specifically in the Ninth District Court of Appeals, the very district where this bill is being introduced. In the history of the use of police dogs in North America, there have only been four deaths attributed to the use of police dogs in the entire history of the utilization of police dogs in America over the last 67 years. The numbers of deployments would be in the hundreds of thousands since the modern era of police dog use in America began in Baltimore in the mid 1950's. Each was an aberration from the norm and one of those lives could have been saved had the subject not been turned away from the hospital she was initially taken to because she was homeless.
While a police dog bite may leave some scarring, where as a Taser doesn’t, which is an argument of the writers of this bill, there have been scores of deaths related to the deployment of CED (Taser) and other less lethal forms of use of force whereas only four related directly to police dog apprehensions. The use of a police dog is a formidable deterrent to violence by suspects and cannot be legitimately coined as a lethal force tool option.
The case of Robinette v Barnes - United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit published Aug 22, 1988 was argued specifically due to the death of a suspect when a police dog bit the suspect on the neck. In that case Justice Boggs concluded:
“A man suspected of being in the course of a commercial burglary, hiding inside a darkened building, was apprehended by a police dog who bit him on the neck. The suspect died shortly thereafter. For the reasons which follow, we agree with the district court that the use of a properly trained police dog to seize a felony suspect does not constitute deadly force. We also hold that even if the use of a police dog could constitute deadly force, the circumstances of the suspect's apprehension justified the use of such force in this case.”
The justifications used in this bill fly against the decisions of every major decision in the courts of the United States.
17 (f) A law enforcement agency shall not authorize any use or
18 training of a police canine that is inconsistent with this section.
20 (g) This section shall not be interpreted as to prevent the use of
21 police canines by law enforcement for purposes of search and
22 rescue, explosives detection, and narcotics detection that do not
23 involve biting.
California Bill AB742 is without merit and is not based in reality to today’s policing. Nor does it offer realistic solutions. At most, it comes across as pandering to special interest groups without taking into consideration that the true reality of police dog deployments is that the suspect is the one that ultimately dictates whether or not whether a dog is used and whether such use will result in injury.
This bill puts extraordinary and untenable expectations on police officers, asking them to unnecessarily risk of their lives. Further it puts the onus on police to come up with the perfect solution to overcoming suspects who are often violent and deadly. No such solution exists, however well-trained police service dogs are a significant factor in saving officer and suspect lives, in spite of suspects who are intent on doing harm, even taking the life of a police officer.
This bill, if passed will result in more officer involved shootings and more officer and suspect deaths. This is a trend that has been proven with the San Diego experience. The results are already proven.
This legislation as it sits is dangerous to officers and to the citizens they protect. The numbers from the California DOJ report the writers of this bill use in an attempt to justify this bill are very narrow in scope, and the writers have skewed the information to the point where it is not factual.
The bill infers deaths by police dogs, even during the time frame in the California DOJ report, when no deaths occurred from police K9 deployments. The claims in this bill simply are not true.
For actual accurate statistics on police dog deployments for the state of California and nationwide in the United States please visit https://katsplatinum.com/california-bill-ab742 for more details.
As before, my offer still stands to any legislator who is serious about making changes to law enforcement K9 operations. I will sit down with any serious legislator(s) and provide as much guidance as you need at no cost, to help you put forward a substantive bill, based on the real issues, that are not founded on race-based initiatives that will make a difference in a positive way regarding K9 policing.
Robert S. Eden
President – Eden K9 Consulting & Training Corp.