Friday, February 18, 2005

Cops, Dogs, and Who Not to Punch

From HometownAnnapolis.com:

...

Officer Allen joined state lawmakers at the General Assembly yesterday to support proposal to impose greater penalties for assaults on police officers. Supporters say the current law sets tougher penalties for attacking a police dog than his handler.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Annapolis, called HB 2 a "priority" measure this session. The bill, cosponsored by 50 delegates, would make attacks on a police officer a felony carrying up to 15 years in prison and a $5,000 fine and would make the crime equivalent to that of assaulting police dogs.

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Well thank God human cops finally get the same respect as canine cops! This is a great moment in human rights history. And here I was, afraid that we'd always be second-class citizens compared to the K9 Unit. Oh hallelujah!

However, thinking about canine officers raises some interesting ethical questions. I've heard it said that any good officer would never send his canine into a situation that he wouldn't put a human in. However, another school of thought says that we have canines precisely to use them in situations that would be too risky for humans. After all, it is just a dog. He doesn't have a wife and kids at home. This attitude makes the dog more of a tool than a "partner".

Personally, I don't think I like the "tool" approach to police dogs. I think police dogs are capable of doing certain things that officers can't do (sniffing for drugs, chasing down some runner and catching him quickly, barking at stuff), but I don't think their purpose is to be cannon fodder either. I don't think that I would consider a canine partner to be on the same level as a human partner, but I certainly don't think he's just some tool that might as well go in the trunk when I'm not using it.

What do you guys think? Any canine officers out there want to comment on this?

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