By Cynthia Hoang-Duong
SACRAMENTO, CA – In a press conference at the State Capitol Tuesday, Assemblymember Dr. Corey A. Jackson (D-Riverside) and Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San José) announced the introduction of AB 742, which would end the use of a police tactic linked to racism.
Lawmakers said the measure will terminate the use of police canines for arrest, apprehension and crowd control — a practice that Dr. Jackson labeled as “deeply racialized”and “harmful” because of its prevalence in America’s history of racism and violence against Black Americans and people of color.
In support of the bill, Dr. Jackson maintained, “The use of police canines has inflicted brutal violence and lifelong trauma on Black Americans and communities of color.”
The bill’s co-author, Assemblymember Kalra, added the existence of canine units “serves to terrorize and to create a menacing environment in communities that are struggling to survive.”
AB 742 is a response to the gross misuse of force and disproportionate victimization of Black and Brown individuals evident in America’s history of slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, and the recent Black Lives Matter protests.
Rick L. Callender, President of the CA/HI NAACP, a co-sponsor of the bill, cited the historical origins of police canine units, noting, “Police canines have roots in slavery and have been used as tools of oppression for Black, Brown, and other communities of color. With this bill, we sever ties with the terrorizing past and move towards a brighter future.”
The California Department of Justice’s 2021 data regarding the use of force concluded nearly two-thirds of Californians seriously injured or killed by police canines were Black and Latino, and, compared to their white counterparts, Black individuals were 2.6 times more likely to be victims of canine attacks and Latino and Hispanic communities twice as likely.
Dr. Jackson also emphasized that lifelong injuries from canine bites happen long before the victim is proven guilty, citing the same study, where CA DOJ found 12 percent of injury cases from police canines often led to severe injuries or death.
Reiterating these concerns, Carlos Marquez III, Executive Director of ACLU California Action, another sponsor of AB 742, said, “The use of police canines has severe and potentially deadly consequences for bite victims, especially communities of color. This bill sets a new standard for California and marks an important step in ending this inhumane practice.”
AB 742 is reserved for cases that involve biting by police canines, said the author, noting the bill will not interfere with the police’s search and rescue, emergency efforts and detection of explosives and illegal substances, such as narcotics.
“This bill marks a turning point in the fight to end this cruel and inhumane practice and build trust between the police and the communities they serve,” said Dr. Jackson.