Broward County Public Defender wants to end vicious police dog attacks
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Barking dog
A study of dog bite incidents shows it disproportionately affects Black suspects.

Broward County’s Public Defender asked lawmakers Wednesday to do what they can to stop the practice of police dogs biting apprehended suspects.

Public Defender Gordon Weekes met with Broward County’s legislative delegation Wednesday and said he thinks the practice of police dogs biting suspects should end, and it needs a legislative fix.

He cited the Sun Sentinel’s coverage of the issue in, “The Hunted: Police K-9s are meant to stop dangerous felons. They’re more often unleashed on Black people accused of stealing.” The paper examined 17 months of records from major police agencies. Results showed that people who were bitten by police dogs were Black at a percentage far exceeding the percentage of Black arrestees.

It’s an outdated custom that needs to stop, Weekes told lawmakers.

The paper’s report also found that one in five people who were bitten were age 17 or younger.

“Dogs that are used to apprehend someone, do they need to bite you when they apprehend you? My position is they do not,” Weekes said. “They can announce they have found someone by barking or circling that individual, but biting is a custom that law enforcement has taken to that is unnecessary.”

Police practices have come under increased scrutiny since a cell phone video captured the death of George Floyd in May 2020 as a Minneapolis police officer held him down with a knee on his neck.

Weekes said he thinks legislation could change training and attitudes about dog bites.

“Legislation could be put in place to limit using canine dogs biting when they apprehend someone,” Weekes said.

Delegation members praised Weekes and Broward State Attorney Harold Pryor, both elected in 2020, for the way the two have worked to advance criminal justice reform in the county.

“I want to say what it’s like to sit here and hear the State Attorney talk so nice and so collaboratively with the Public Defender — it’s remarkable, frankly,” said State Rep. Michael Gottlieb.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected]


6 comments

  • Ron Ogden

    October 7, 2021 at 5:58 am

    Our issue of the moment, caused by a police dog bite incident in St. Louis. K9 units are highly trained to achieve two goals, effect an arrest and protect the officers involved. If you are facing arrest, just chill out, cooperate with the police and, above all, do not threaten them or flee and elude. Doggy is faster than you.
    Upon reading the editorials you will see that the agreed language to be used about these incidents is “Bull Connors.” He should be a hero to liberals because he provided them with a cliche they can use to generate angry clicks without having to go to the trouble of thinking through an issue.

    • Ruben

      October 7, 2021 at 1:49 pm

      Woohoo for you Ron – bet you would not be singing the same tune if this happened to your son or someone in your family. Has nothing to do with being a liberal – but what is humane.

      • Ron Ogden

        October 8, 2021 at 6:05 am

        I am interested in the rule of law, safety for police officers, and less crime committed by fewer criminals. Race and class don’t matter. People at home in bed don’t get bitten.

  • Impeach Biden

    October 7, 2021 at 6:08 am

    So true. Defund the police and now defund the police dogs. How about stop resisting arrest, stop fighting and attempting to disarm the police and how about listening to them and comply with their orders. Easy. Stop breaking the law.

    • Ruben

      October 7, 2021 at 1:52 pm

      So based on your logic and statement, it appears you are stating that one is guilty until proven innocent – which definitely goes contrary to the law of the land. I wonder if those that tout “law and order” only do so when its politically convenient for them. Ha.

      • Ron Ogden

        October 7, 2021 at 4:35 pm

        Fleeing an officer who has ordered you to stay in one place amounts to resisting arrest on the face of it, and that is unlawful. How a court may dispose of such a charge is up to the court, but in the moment the one who is fleeing or resisting arrest is prima facie guilty. Be cool, cooperate with the officer, don’t resist, don’t flee. You’ll get your day in court.

Comments are closed.


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