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K-9's and Use of Force Continuum


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  • K-9's and Use of Force Continuum

    Where does your department have the K-9 listed on the Use of Force Continuum? Why?

    1. Officer Presence
    2. Verbal Direction
    3. Empty Hand Control
    4. Intermediate Weapons
    5. Deadly Force
    Last edited by K-9_Vet; 03-30-2007, 09:05 AM.

  • #2
    Our K9 is not listed on the FC. We have an SOP outlining when it can be used for apprehension. For our purposes the K9 is a tool not a weapon.


    • #3
      Level 4 on the departments in this area, If you can hit them with a baton, the dog can bite all he wants.
      U.S. Coast Guard R since 2006.
      Petty Officer Third Class (E-4)


      • #4
        My department doesn't list it on our's either. I just have to be able to justify the bite, which is usually easy enough.


        • #5
          I wiould go with the impact baton...If I can use that the bite is free game..
          Vet just curious, you dont have OC spray, Tazer or Beanbag or something similiar. You dont Carry OC ? For us this is after soft hands and before full on punching,kicking and fighting.


          • #6
            Does a canine belong in a
            Use of Force Continuum?

            If so, where does the canine belong?

            Historically, law enforcement has classified a canine strictly as a “tool” for the simple reason that their unique olfactory sense is best utilized in the “search and locate” capacity.

            Canines are usually employed to do search and rescue missions, evidence recovery, narcotics detection, explosive detection, accelerant detection and searches to locate fleeing or hiding suspects. Upon locating the suspect, a use of force may, or may not be necessary by either the canine or handler. For this reason, it is doubtful whether the canine even belongs in a Use of Force Continuum.

            Typically, canines are not classified as “weapons” since true weapons in law enforcement, such as O.C., electronic devices, batons and firearms, serve no other purpose than as a weapon. Because the application of force in any situation is based upon a standard of “reasonableness,” many agencies are eliminating a Use of Force Continuum from their policies. (See Scott v Henrich).

            In the event a canine Use of Force is being considered, a pre-planned policy consistent with current local, state and federal case law will assist the handler and department to make an appropriate deployment decision.

            A careful review of legal decisions in the area of canine usage and liability could include the court cases, rulings, findings and comments referenced in this brief.

            The California Peace Officer’s Association (CPOA) has a model policy. The CPOA’s sample Use of Force Policy states:

            “Deployment of other force options typically only available to specialty units (canine) should be dealt with in a separate and distinct policy. These would include such things as the use of canines when deployed for the purpose of controlling suspects.

            These options should be categorized based upon foreseeable risk of injury, the availability and viability of other options and other tactical considerations.”

            The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has both a “Model Policy” and a “Concepts and Issues Paper” on use of force. Their policy breaks down use of force under two definitions: “Deadly Force” and “Non-Deadly Force.” Police Service Dogs are not addressed under deadly force or under non-deadly force. There is no Use of Force Continuum in the IACP policy.

            Departments should assess these areas and provide canine units with a written policy on canine usage. This written canine policy should be separate from the department’s Use of Force Policy. When the canine, a locating tool, is utilized as a use of force, then and only then, does the canine fall into the Use of Force Policy.

            The department’s Use of Force Policy should contain an investigation into that use of force, to insure the constitutionality of that use of force.

            Calibre Press, through their “Street Survival” seminars, suggest this model “use-of-force continuum”:

            Baton (Striking)
            Less Lethal Technology
            Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint
            Active Counter Measures
            Electronic Devices
            Decentralization (Takedown)
            Baton (Leverage)
            Pressure Point Control/Physical Restraint/Compliance
            Tactical Talking (“Verbal Judo”)
            Verbal Commands

            Since most agencies do not list canines in their use of force policy and since use of force continuums may not be appropriate, a sample use of force police follows.

            Provided and Written by Bruce D. Praet, Attorney
            Ferguson, Praet & Sherman
            (714) 953-5300

            USE OF FORCE:

            300.1 PURPOSE AND SCOPE
            This policy recognizes that the use of force by law enforcement requires constant evaluation. Even at its lowest level, the use of force is a serious responsibility. The purpose of this policy is to provide officers of this department with guidelines on the reasonable use of force. While there is no way to specify the exact amount or type of reasonable force to be applied in any situation, each officer is expected to use these guidelines to make such decisions in a professional, impartial and safe manner.

            300.11 PHILOSOPHY
            The use of force by law enforcement personnel is a matter of critical concern both to the public and to the law enforcement community. Officers are involved on a daily basis in numerous and varied human encounters and, when warranted, may use force in carrying out their duties.

            Officers must have an understanding of, and true appreciation for, the limitations of their authority. This is especially true with respect to officers overcoming resistance while engaged in the performance of their duties.

            This department recognizes and respects the value of all human life and dignity without prejudice to anyone. It is also understood that vesting officers with the authority to use reasonable force and protect the public welfare requires a careful balancing of all human interests.

            300.2 POLICY
            It is the policy of this Department that officers shall use only that amount of force that reasonably appears necessary, given the facts and circumstances perceived by the officer at the time of the event, to effectively bring an incident under control. “Reasonableness” of the force used must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene at the time of the incident. Any interpretation of “reasonableness” must allow for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions – in circumstances that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving – about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.

            Any peace officer that has reasonable cause to believe that the person to be arrested has committed a public offense may use reasonable force to effect the arrest, to prevent escape, or to overcome resistance. A peace officer who makes or attempts to make an arrest need not retreat or desist from his/her efforts by reason of resistance or threatened resistance of the person being arrested; nor shall such officer be deemed the aggressor or lose his/her right to self-defense by the use of reasonable force to effect the arrest or to prevent escape or to overcome resistance.

            When determining whether or not to apply any level of force and evaluating whether an officer has used reasonable force, a number of factors should be taken into consideration. These factors include, but are not limited to:

            1. The conduct of the individual being confronted (as reasonably perceived by the officer at the time).
            2. Officer/subject factors (age, size, relative strength, skill level, injury/exhaustion and number of officers vs. subjects).
            3. Influence of drugs/alcohol (mental capacity).
            4. Proximity of weapons.
            5. Availability of other options (What resources are reasonably available to the officer under the circumstances).
            6. Seriousness of the suspected offense or reason for contact with the individual.
            7. Training and experience of the officer.
            8. Potential for injury to citizens, officers and suspects.
            9. Risk of escape.
            10. Other exigent circumstance.

            It is recognized that officers are expected to make split-second decisions and that the amount of an officer’s time available to evaluate and respond to changing circumstances may impact his/her decision.

            While various degrees of force exist, each officer is expected to use only that degree of force reasonable under the circumstances to successfully accomplish the legitimate law enforcement purpose in accordance with this policy.

            Any application of force which is not reasonably anticipated to result in death shall be considered non-deadly force. Each officer is provided with equipment, training and skills to assist in the apprehension and control of suspects as well as protection of officers and the public. Non-deadly force applications may include but are not limited to Leg Restraints and Less Lethal Control Devices described in Policy Manual 306 and 308 respectively.

            Given that no policy can realistically predict every possible situation an officer might encounter in the field, it is recognized that each officer must be entrusted with well-reasoned discretion in determining the appropriate use of force in each incident. While it is the ultimate objective of every law enforcement encounter to minimize injury to everyone involved, nothing in this policy requires an officer to actually sustain physical injury before applying reasonable force.

            Use of deadly force is justified in the following circumstances:

            a) An officer may use deadly force to protect them or others from what they reasonably believe would be an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury.
            b) An officer may use deadly force to effect the arrest or prevent the escape of a suspected felon where the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or others. Under such circumstances, a verbal warning should proceed the use of deadly force, where feasible.

            300.4 REPORTING THE USE OF FORCE
            Any use of physical force by a member of this Department shall be documented completely and accurately in an appropriate report depending on the nature of the incident. The use of particular weapons such as a taser or chemical agents may require the completion of additional report forms as specified in departmental policy and/or law.

            Supervisory notification shall be made as soon as practical following the application of physical force, under any of the following circumstances:

            • Where the application of force appears to have caused physical injury.
            • The individual has expressed a complaint of pain.
            • Any application of a less lethal control device.
            • Where the individual has been rendered unconscious.

            Medical assistance shall be obtained for any person(s) who has sustained visible injury, expressed a complaint of pain, or who has been rendered unconscious.

            Terry Fleck
            Canine Legal Update and Opinions


            • #7
              Originally posted by joerod80
              Vet just curious, you dont have OC spray, Tazer or Beanbag or something similiar. You dont Carry OC ? For us this is after soft hands and before full on punching,kicking and fighting.
              Yes, we have the Tazer, O.C., Beanbag, batons, etc.... I was just curious as to how other departments would list there dog on the use of force continuum. That is if they do. I have seen some that do and some that don't. Our department DOES NOT list them however our defensive tactics instructors and past handlers would place the dog at intermediate weapons if they were required to. That is due to the possible injury the dog could inflict. Otherwise the dog is a tool not a weapon.


              • #8
                Gotcha, I didnt see them listed thats why I asked about them.


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