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body camera off — or forgot to turn it on — just before the bite. They explained:
- “Unbeknownst to me, the switch was inadvertently switched to the off position,” Officer Craig Sheehan wrote in a July 2019 report.
- Officer Eduardo Requejo said he didn’t turn on his camera “due to how fast” the capture occurred in a March 2019 arrest.
- Officer Morris said that “due to the quick pace” of unfolding arrest, “I forgot” to activate the camera in a September 2019 bite and arrest.
Their supervisor, Cristafaro, said the camera program was in its early stages at the time, and “there was a learning curve.” The agency set new policies, he said, and is better at capturing footage of all arrests now.
Call off the dogs
With a national reckoning over police power now well under way, some agencies are rethinking the use of dogs.
The state of Massachusetts last December limited the use of police dogs: officers need to attempt to defuse the situation first, and the use of the dog needs to be “proportionate” to the threat presented by the individual. Additionally, all uses of the dog must be reported to a statewide commission.
Florida has no such standards or statewide commission, though it does require officers to have more than 480 hours of training with the dog before certifying them.
In 2020, the attorney general of California, Xavier Becerra, now the secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services, called for an end to K-9 bites and a shift to “find and bark” or “circle and bark” techniques.
The Salt Lake City Police Department suspended its K-9 program in late 2020 after the Salt Lake Tribune published a video of one officer ordering his K-9 to bite a Black man who was on his knees and had his hands in the air.
The video triggered an audit by the department which found a “pattern of abuse,” according to the Salt Lake Tribune. After the review, the department decided to refer 18 of the 27 dog bites made during the past two years – 66% – to the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office for possible criminal prosecution of the officers who ordered them.