Utah Senator Tells People To Stay Home If They Don't Want To Be Mauled By Police Dogs

from the thanks-for-the-input,-Senator-Whitebread dept

When cops can’t do the brutalization themselves, they send in man’s best friend. Best friend to The Man, that is. K-9 “officers” aren’t just for illegally extending traffic stops. They’re also capable of maiming people for the offense of not being respectful/subdued enough for an officer’s liking.

A recent investigative report by The Marshall Project shows cops are more than willing to use police dogs to inflict pain on arrestees, even when there’s nothing about the situation that demands such a violent response. Just being a suspected criminal is enough to trigger dog handlers, who appear to feel any amount of damage to another human being is justified.

The police called in a K-9 handler and his dog, Niko, to search 3809 Cresta Circle. The dog lunged, found a man and bit down, according to court records. It took almost two minutes for the handler to pull the dog off. And before long, their suspect, a 51-year-old Black man, bled to death. The dog had torn an artery in his groin.

The burglary suspect actually had permission to be in the house. And his only prior criminal activity was passing bad checks years before Alabama police unleashed a dog on him.

That’s only the beginning of the Marshall Project’s thorough report, which shows this “interaction” is far from unusual.

Police dog bites are rarely fatal. But in other ways, the case of Joseph Pettaway is not unusual. These dogs, whose jaws and teeth are strong enough to punch through sheet metal, often produce severe injuries. Police employ them not only in emergencies, but also for low-level, non-violent incidents. The dogs bite thousands of Americans each year, including innocent bystanders, police officers, even their own handlers. And there is little oversight, nationally or in the states, of how police departments use them.

Not every law enforcement agency is this irresponsible about its use of attack animals. Some agencies deploy their dogs rarely during arrests. Others do it with alarming frequency. The investigation shows there’s nothing harmless about deploying K-9s. They are just another weapon in cops’ arsenals, capable of doing immense amounts of damage.

Police dog bites can be more like shark attacks than nips from a family pet, according to experts and medical researchers. A dog chewed on an Indiana man’s neck for 30 seconds, puncturing his trachea and slicing his carotid artery. A dog ripped off an Arizona man’s face. A police dog in California took off a man’s testicle. Dog bites cause more hospital visits than any other use of force by police, according to a 2008 academic analysis of 30 departments.

In addition, many of those bitten were suspected of non-violent crimes and were unarmed. Court records show some of those targeted by K-9 attacks were suspected of nearly nothing at all. Dogs were unleashed by cops in response to license plate issues, public urination, and against someone looking for a lost cat.

A recent internal investigation of the Salt Lake City (UT) police department came to some of the same conclusions.

After bodycam footage showed a Salt Lake City police officer ordering his dog to bite a Black man on his knees with his hands in the air, department officials launched a review of times when police dogs had been used during an arrest.

What they found, according to Mayor Erin Mendenhall, was a “pattern of abuse of power.”

It is indeed a pattern. The internal review looked at the 27 times police dogs had bitten residents since 2018. Eighteen of those — 66% percent — were forwarded to the DA’s office for potential criminal charges against the officers.

The investigation prompted by this body camera footage uncovered additional problems. Officers deploying dogs appear to believe it isn’t a use of force worth reporting, despite department policies stating otherwise. No one in the PD was aware of this attack until after the Salt Lake Tribune published the video. The officer didn’t report the use of force. Neither did his superior.

The PD has since changed its policies to mandate reporting of dog bites as use of force. And the officer ordering his pet to bite an unarmed, compliant man has been charged with aggravated assault. But even as the PD tries to clean up its mess, at least one state legislator seems to believe it’s the public’s fault members of the public are being attacked by police dogs. Speaking out against a bill that would codify the department’s K-9 policies, the legislator suggested the streets belong to the police, rather than the public.

[S]tate Sen. Don Ipson (R–St. George) has a simpler solution: If people don’t want to be attacked by police dogs, he said last week, they should “stay home.”

Ipson made it clear that he was not keen on the proposed legislation. “I don’t have a lot of sympathy,” he told fellow members of the Utah Senate’s Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee. “We don’t want to harm the public. But if they don’t want to get bit, stay home.”

There appears to be no reason for Ipson’s idiotic statement other than he’s white, male, and unlikely to be targeted by police violence. He has since apologized for his stupidity. But he’s only swapped out this stupidity for another form of stupidity.

“It didn’t come across the way I meant it, and to the world, I apologize for that, that was wrong,” he told local news channel KUTV.

Rephrasing his earlier remarks, the Republican Senator told The Salt Lake Tribune newspaper: “If you don’t want to have a confrontation with a police officer or a K-9 dog… you don’t break the law.”

First, it seems like it came across exactly the way he meant in. Ipson said people should stay home if they don’t want to be attacked by cops and their pets. This is called blaming the victim, and supporters of law enforcement do this far more often than other public servants and members of the public.

The replacement statement isn’t much better. According to Ipson, people who don’t want to be mauled by police dogs shouldn’t break the law. Well, explain that to the guy who was in a house with permission but got treated like a dangerous burglar. Or the person whose public urination led to a K-9 attack. Or the person looking for a lost cat, which doesn’t appear to be a violation of any law, no matter how many vague, stupid laws legislators pass.

And this additional clarification shows how much Ipson doesn’t care what happens to people who don’t enjoy the same privileges he’s enjoyed his entire life.

“I’m 73 years old,” Ipson said. “I’ve never been threatened by a K-9 dog. If you don’t want to have a confrontation with a police officer or a K-9 dog…you don’t break the law.”

A 73-year-old white man recounting his lack of experience with police brutality is indicative of nothing. His ability to avoid being mauled by police dogs provides no guidance to anyone. Those similarly situated (white, upper middle class, male) will have also likely made it dozens of years without being subjected to mistreatment by cops.

But their inexperience should not be taken as an indicator of police restraint and accountability. In fact, it indicates the opposite. Cops will abuse people they believe are powerless far more often than they’ll abuse those they feel can fight back — either through lawsuits or legislation. Ipson’s statement is like someone claiming tornadoes are harmless because they’ve never had a tornado hit their house. It doesn’t speak to the experiences of others. It only shows how sheltered they are. And it shows how complicit cops are in ensuring certain people remain exempt from their casual brutality.

Filed Under: , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Utah Senator Tells People To Stay Home If They Don't Want To Be Mauled By Police Dogs”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
26 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
My fear... says:

My fear...

Now that dog bites are officially use of force, I bet the body-cams will be turned off more frequently when dogs are going to be ordered to attack. One of the reasons this investigation was able to dig up so much information is because, at the time of the events, the officers didn’t realize they had anything to hide.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Let’s not forget that if you manage to defend yourself, some places will punish it the same as assaulting an officer. Because some idiot legislators wanted to protect the nice doggies.

And let’s also remember that training a dog to attack people is animal abuse.

And as for "sniffer" dogs, they’re unreliable. They can smell stuff just fine, but they’re invariably and unavoidably trained to "lie" about it.

There is NO legitimate use for dogs in any part of law enforcement, period.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Let’s not forget that if you manage to defend yourself, some places will punish it the same as assaulting an officer. Because some idiot legislators wanted to protect the nice doggies.

Well, some of the doggies, because the reverse is hypocritically not true.

Civilian defends themself and injures or horror of horrors kills a police dog? They might as well have shot a human cop for all the treatment they are about to receive.

Cop guns down a non-police dog simply because they can? No big deal, the owner can just suck it up and get another, not like they’re hard to find and pets are basically interchangeable anyway.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"And as for "sniffer" dogs, they’re unreliable. They can smell stuff just fine, but they’re invariably and unavoidably trained to "lie" about it."

I hate to have to say it…but this is yet one more of those issues which is a problem only in the US. K-9 units in most of europe does not have any of the problems shown in the US. Same as the US is also alone in having a per capita rate of death due to police higher than the actual criminal murder rate in most other countries.

US law enforcement is, in proportion, responsible for more death and trauma than warlord thugs in many war-riven third world hellholes.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Detection dogs

I remember in Europe detection dogs were used to detect explosives in long lines of luggage, were it would be impossible for human agents to open every single one of them.

That’s a different type of search than in the US, where a detection dog signals at every part of a single car belonging to a single man that the law enforcement officer uses to justify busting it open to check for contraband. In that case, the trick-pony dog works better (for the officer’s purposes) since he’s looking not just for drugs or explosives, rather any material he can exploit such as cash.

We’ve even had dog trainers in the US make audible complaints that the current use of dogs is killing the reputation of actual detection dogs used for detection purposes (rather than simply establishing alleged probable cause)

We may eventually criminalize police use of detection dogs at the point that the courts are desperate to cling to legitimacy. But the police seem not to care what protocols are legal or not, and are glad to violate orders, whether from the precinct, from the courts or from congress.

Again, when I call the US a fascist police state it’s not hyperbole.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Detection dogs

"I remember in Europe detection dogs were used to detect explosives in long lines of luggage, were it would be impossible for human agents to open every single one of them."

On no few occasions I’ve had a K-9 handler walk past me in a european airports and train stations with a big german shepherd on a leash. The difference between me and an american is that I have never had reason to distrust that dog sniffing its way past with a focused impression – nor its handler.

The idea that a policeman could practice something like civil forfeiture or sic a dog on you is…unreal. If anything like that were to happen anywhere in Germany or the Nordics said officer would be instantly sacked, arrested, and the chief of police would be out before cameras apologizing to the public over the monumental disgrace befalling the local police department.

That shit like this is legal in many US states is….honestly, i think you’d have to look real hard finding places like this in the third world, let alone the G20.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

""I’m 73 years old," Ipson said. "I’ve never been threatened by a K-9 dog. If you don’t want to have a confrontation with a police officer or a K-9 dog…you don’t break the law.""

Yeah, why would a wealthy elderly white politician have no confrontation with police to the same degree others are experiencing? It’s a real mystery… Maybe it’s the inability to understand that plenty of people who haven’t done anything wrong also get victimised here and there’s something… different about the typical target?

"And before long, their suspect, a 51-year-old Black man, bled to death… The burglary suspect actually had permission to be in the house. And his only prior criminal activity was passing bad checks years before Alabama police unleashed a dog on him."

Case in point. Unless you’re going to argue that bad checks are something that’s punishable by death years after the fact, which law was he breaking that deserved such an interaction, let alone the result? Existing While Black does seem to come up a lot in these stories…

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

So, about that third world comparison...

"The dogs bite thousands of Americans each year, including innocent bystanders, police officers, even their own handlers. And there is little oversight, nationally or in the states, of how police departments use them."

In the EU if a police dog bites someone without very clear command by their handler, that dog is usually put down and the trainer investigated. Dogs are primarily used for their sensory ability, not their ability to attack. Police have nightsticks, tasers, pepper spray guns and martial training. A dog brings nothing to that table except "Oh, yeah, and Rover here gets ta eat ya iff’n ya don’t shut up!"

I swear, the more I hear about US "law enforcement" the more I’m reminded of the documentaries of East Germany brutality i used to watch back in the 80’s when I was living in West Germany. Any one of the messes we read about of late, coming from the US, would publicly invalidate any police force in most of Europe.

I honestly wouldn’t be surprised, by now, to read about US border patrol putting up selbstshussanlagen, probably in automated drone form, along the borders.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

'Honestly it's their own fault for not being powerful white men'

Rephrasing his earlier remarks, the Republican Senator told The Salt Lake Tribune newspaper: "If you don’t want to have a confrontation with a police officer or a K-9 dog… you don’t break the law."

Damn right, just like if women don’t want to get raped then they should stop dressing like sluts. They choose to dress that way so clearly they get what they had coming and likewise if people don’t want to get mauled/killed by a police dog then they just need to not interact with police, because if they do then the blame for anything that happens after that is entirely on them.

TOP DOG says:

Ipson far too ignorant and poorly educated to hold any positio

It will take us generations to undo the damage this Authoritarian is inflicting against the American citizens and the constitution. He is proving himself to be the enemy of the American people as well as liberty and justice. This greedy and ignorant creature needs to be removed from office. He is your enemy.

Bert says:

klaffi

Klaffen Von Das Schafferhundens is also kinda vulnerable. No one WANTS to destroy a dog, but if ‘the pigs’ have turned their meat-eater loose on you, your options are kinda limited. Doggies are only harmful if they get their teeth into you. Otherwise, doggies have tails, ears, eyes, testicles(usually), and a couple good kicks and Klaffi’s out of commission. Possibly permanently. But, as related in this story, attack dogs can kill. So…it is self-defense, kinda.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: WWII War Dogs

In WWII, the Wehrmacht used attack dogs and hunting dogs for security, which led to more than a few self-defense cases. They also used dogs for medical services which were much less threatening, but it meant we had to exercise restraint (and sometimes did not).

The Soviets trained anti-tank dogs to deliver explosives to tanks, which we (even the Russians) don’t like to think about for too long or we start crying.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...