Province releases new guidelines for police dog deployment

“Before we were working in a system where police officers and dogs could use high levels of force and there was very little scrutiny,” says PIVOT's Douglas King

Province releases new guidelines for police dog deployment
Photo of Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton who released the new standards by Province of BC

The provincial government introduced new regulations for the training and deployment of police dogs today following a PIVOT legal society report stating dog bites as the leading cause of injuries. These new standards for use and deployment are a Canadian first.

The PIVOT report released in June also mentioned that someone is injured by a police K-9 every other day in BC, by using a police training method called bite-and-hold, as opposed to the other leading technique that allows the dogs circle and bark.

“We’re happy that we got the reception that we did from the provincial government,” Pivot lawyer and report author Douglas King told VO. “I think they realized that there’s an opportunity here for BC to lead the way in Canada in police dog deployment and to make sure we’re using best practices when it comes to force.”

Some of the new regulations include making sure the police dogs are well-trained and under handler’s control. Police dogs may only bite if someone is causing or is about to cause bodily harm. The new standards also include a bite treatment, reporting and review system for each bite incident, with concluded data forwarded to the province.

King says while the new regulations address most of the report’s concerns, there are areas to improve on. He says it’s “frustrating” when police departments promote the dog as partners to the police officers instead of recognizing them as a specialized tool.

“But the important part there is that the discussion has started and the analysis is there,” he added. “Before we were working in a system where police officers and dogs could use high levels of force and there was very little scrutiny.”

The new guidelines go into effect across the BC police departments and the RCMP in September 2015.

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