Eight Washington, D.C., police officers charge in a lawsuit that their canine squad was disbanded because most of the squad’s officers were white and police leaders feared a public relations problem, says the Washington Post. The officers say canine squads were illegally reorganized and that the department suggested to other officers that members of their squad were racist.
The reorganization occurred in March. An independent monitor had reported improvements in the canine units but also noted problems with police dogs biting suspects. The analysis found that 11 of the 17 dog bites in 2002 involved dogs handled by the squad at issue. The eight officers allege that the department had determined that all the dog bites were justified.
The lawsuit contends that department leaders created a hostile, harassing work environment for officers “by telling their fellow officers that the plaintiffs, because their unit was allegedly ‘too white’ and had engaged in racial misconduct, were the cause” of the reorganization of all canine units. The officers say that other officers placed drawings of Ku Klux Klan members in their lockers and gave them “heil Hitler” salutes as they passed.