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Police Dogs Versus Crowds

NCJ Number
Journal of Police Science and Administration Volume: 8 Issue: 3 Dated: (September 1980) Pages: 316-321
S G Chapman
Date Published
6 pages
The controversy about police dog use in crowd control is traced through its beginning in the civil rights era; police are advised to know at what point dog use exacerbates rather than eases crowd problems.
Police use of dogs for crowd control first became controversial during the civil rights era in the early 1960's. Early incidents discussed include a 1959 attempt by police to protect blacks moving into an all-white neighborhood and a 1961 race riot. These incidents sharply polarized public opinion. However, the biggest controversy arose in 1963 when the local sheriff in Birmingham, Ala., ordered dogs to attack civil rights demonstrators. The news media and black leaders across the country consequently charged the police with brutality, and the incident hurt the police image everywhere. Although more restrained use of dogs during demonstrations in other Southern cities did not spark public outrage, police use of canine units was subsequently curtailed. However, because public demonstrations over many issues will continue in the U.S., dogs will continue to be used for their proven psychological value in controlling crowds. Although attempts were made in California and Massachusetts early in the 1970's to restrict police use of dogs, recent legislation protects dogs performing police functions. In all, about 20 jurisdictions have passed ordinances or State laws relating to various aspects of canine operations. Footnotes are included.


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