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Higher Number of K-9 Bites to Minorities Raises Questions

A report released this week by Merrick Bobb, president of the non-profit Police Assessment Resource Center, shows Latinos and African Americans are subjected to canine bites more often than other groups arrested by Los Angeles County Sheriffs.

The report cites the fact that in the first six months of 2013, 100 percent of dog bites were to Latinos and African Americans; no whites, Asians or members of other groups suffered any dog bites.

Why the disparity? Is it that more canine units are deployed to areas of the County where a majority of the residents are either Latino or African American?

It’s hard to understand why sheriff deputies who patrol unincorporated areas of the County have chosen to use canines more frequently during their policing routines in minority areas.

The fact that only Latinos and African Americans seem to be targeted by the Sheriffs department for this type of deployments raises concerns about how the department is doing its job in these areas, and whether the higher deployment of canines is intentional.

According to the report, five sheriffs stations – Century, Lennox, Compton, Lakewood and the city of Industry— had more bites than all the other 21 stations combined, while more affluent areas had the lowest number of dog bites.

Is anyone surprised?

Worse yet, according to the report a lack of supervision was one of the reasons why certain areas may have been picked and not others.

The report recommends that the department track bite incidents by the dog and handler involved. But unless Sheriff Lee Baca takes more interest in why the disparity is taking place, we believe that Bobb’s recommendation will go unheeded.

The Board of Supervisors should be given a monthly report on the number of K-9 incidents and the areas where they occur.