Some 83 percent of suspects bitten by sheriff’s dogs in Los Angeles County are minorities, says Merrick J. Bobb, who is monitoring the department. Bobb recommended that Sheriff Lee Baca’s crime-fighting strategies be “rigorously rethought,” says the Los Angeles Times. Citing the Canine Services Detail, Bobb’s semiannual report urged Baca and his deputies to engage in “soul-searching” on whether racial profiling was a factor in the high proportion of suspects bitten who are African American or Latino. That figure has never fallen below 80 percent. “Is it racial profiling or is it not? And how do we deal with those kinds of vastly disproportionate statistics without compromising public safety?” Bobb said. The detail involves 10 handlers, 10 dogs, three sergeants, and a lieutenant.
The report also found the dogs were biting more, though they were used less. For about the past decade, about 10 percent of the suspects caught with the help of dogs suffered bites. For the first six months of this year, the rate was about 23 percent. Bobb’s review, largely favorable, also addressed training programs to minimize officer-involved shootings, complaints of officer misconduct, and inmate violence in county jails. It found that in 2003 and the first three months of this year, inmate violence was “troublingly high,” but unsurprising given resource constraints and a growing prison population.