Community Police Review Commission about K-9 policy

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Weeks after this news organization’s examination of records revealed that Richmond Police Department’s canines injured 73 people through their bites the past six years — more than half of all injuries reported — a police monitoring group discussed the article’s findings but did not call for any changes in protocol.

In a special meeting Wednesday, Richmond’s Community Police Review Commission, which has the authority to investigate allegations of excessive or unreasonable use of force by the department, reviewed the news report and the department’s use of police dogs.

Many of the commissioners questioned the rate and severity of the injuries, expressing frustration that the bites never came to light in previous meetings.

But police officials who attended the meeting defended the use of K-9 units, arguing that dog bites are less lethal options in apprehending criminals than gunfire.

Acting police Chief Louie Tirona said that only 45 people were bitten out of the 620 times police dogs were brought out since 2018, accounting for 7% of all interactions.

While he was amenable to additional study sessions on his officers’ use of police dogs, he complained that the data in the news report did not paint a comprehensive picture of all canine activities and instead focused solely on violent incidents.

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