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To Bite or Not to Bite: Canine Apprehensions in a Large Suburban Police Department

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 31 Issue: 2 Dated: March/April 2003 Pages: 147-154
Edward R. Hickey; Peter B. Hoffman
Date Published
March 2003
8 pages
This article discusses the use of canines to apprehend suspects in a large, suburban police department (Montgomery County, Maryland) from 1993 to 1998.
Previous literature focuses primarily on the importance of training canines and the techniques for training them. Use of force reports, canine-apprehension reports, arrest data, and the canine unit’s monthly activity reports were examined to analyze the use of police canines. Five rates were calculated: the apprehension rate, the canine bite rate, medical treatment rate, hospital treatment rate, and officer injury rate. During the study time period, the canine unit responded to 28,430 incidents. Of these, 53 percent resulted in the deployment of a canine. Canine deployments were grouped into three categories: tracks, building searches, and other deployments including narcotic searches, article searches, bomb searches, and warrant executions. Canines were deployed an average of 2,505 times per year. Per year, there was an average of 728 tracks, 1,033 building searches, and 743 other canine deployments. There was an average of 196.5 canine-assisted apprehensions per year. During the study period, canine tracks resulted in approximately 568 apprehensions; building searches resulted in approximately 345 apprehensions; and other canine deployments resulted in approximately 266 apprehensions. The total number of suspects bitten was 166 during the study period. Of the suspects bitten, 59 refused treatment, 50 received first-aid treatment at the scene only, and 57 received medical attention at a hospital. During the study period, canine officers sustained nine injuries. Knowledge of the apprehension rate can be used as a base for assessing proposed changes to canine tactics or deployment strategies. 4 tables, 13 notes, 11 references


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