Illinois governor set to sign bill requiring dog behavior training for police

August 6, 2013

A bill that would require Illinois police officers to receive mandatory training in dog behavior is now on the desk of Governor Pat Quinn, Chicago Tribune reported August 6.

The new law would require the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board to approve non-lethal guidelines that will require dog behavior training for police officers.

The bill, which was originally intended to help Cook County sheriff’s deputies break up dog fighting rings, will teach officers how to read a dogs body language. Hopefully, this will train police officers in the difference between an attacking dog, and one running up to say hello.

Illinois officers will be trained in non-lethal methods in dealing with dogs, in an effort to keep both officers and family dogs safe.

No one wants an officer to suffer a dog attack, but too many dogs are being shot by police who mistake a friendly dog with a dog ready to take a bite out of an officer.

Statistics now show there are more dogs shot in Chicago than in New York or Los Angeles, but no cause for this has been determined.

It’s hard on officers who have to think quickly when they’re faced with a growling, teeth-baring dog. While many officers have family dogs at home, this training will educate them in how to react around dogs they don’t know.

A spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police, Pat Camden, believes police officers and dog owners need to work together to prevent dogs being shot by police. Camden isn’t against this type of dog behavior training, but he also believes dog owners should do their part in controlling their dogs.

Adam Collins, a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department, said that officers undergo extensive use of force training, which includes how to handle dangerous dogs.

Illinois, especially Chicago, needs this bill, and officers need to receive more training immediately.

A federal jury awarded a Chicago family $333,000 in 2011, that resulted in a 2009 incident where a dog was shot during a South Side home search where no criminal activity took place. That suit alleged excessive force and false arrests. The city was also found guilty on Fourth Amendment violations, resulting from illegal seizure when police shot and killed the family dog.

A Chicago dog shooting is still under investigation after a 7-month-old bull terrier puppy named Colonel was shot by police last December. Al and Barbara Phillips’ prize puppy was shot by as officer as the officer was writing Al a parking ticket.

The officer said Colonel ran out of the home, where the 20-pound dog attacked him. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Barbara Phillips stated

“With no warning, (Colonel) was shot in the hind leg and in his stomach.”

Colonel survived the shooting, and the family now has a lawsuit against the city.

Training for police in dog behavior should be required for all officers. Other states need to enact legislation making it mandatory.

Unfortunately, once a bill such as this passes, there’s usually a very long wait before police receive mandatory training. Unfortunately, this means many more dogs may die at the hands of untrained police officers.




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