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New bill aims to limit the use of K-9s, how the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office is reacting

HOLLISTER, Calif. (KION) - The San Benito County Sheriff's Office is urging people to vote no on Assembly Bill 742.
This bill will limit the use of K9s which law enforcement say will put them at greater risk.

We spoke to an organization that argues K9s are considered a lethal force. 

Cephus X Johnson or "Uncle Bobby," the co-founder of Families United for Justice says there should be more regulations when using K9s.

Johnson says it's not only guns used in brutal cases with excessive use of force.

"These canines are a form of deadly force. and right now, they're unregulated and unrestricted under California state law," Johnson.

K9s have been used to fight crime for decades. In Benito County, they are used often, mainly for drug busts and locating suspects, but deputies will sometimes use them to protect themselves.

Eric Taylor San Benito Sheriff said: "Using force is a necessary part of our job, and oftentimes it just doesn't look good."

AB 742 won't ban the use of K9s but instead, label the dogs as a deadly use of force.

"I know that a former handlers that I worked with in my former agency had over between 80 and 100 fights with his dog, none of them deadly. So the fact that it's people are trying to put this on the level of deadly force, it's just it's it's inaccurate to put that on that level," Taylor said.

However Johnson argues more needs to be done with how law enforcement handles their K9s, and this bill will assist with that.

"This bill would reform a brutal and unnecessary police practice by prohibiting the use of police canines for crowd control, restricting the use of or biting arrests, apprehension to situations where there is an imminent risk of seriously bodily injury or death," Johnson said.

Johnson recognizes K9s have helped with locating narcotics and suspects, yet feels it's not worth risking the loss of life.

"The power to police to use deadly force and K9 is considered deadly force is a significant responsibility. That responsibility has to be guided by common sense legislation that only protects the human rights and save the human life. and that's what this bill is about," Johnson said.

The San Benito County Sheriff's Office says they do own two K9s, which are trained on a weekly basis.

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Dania Romero

Dania Romero is an reporter at KION News Channel 46.


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