Who Let the 'Racist' Police Dogs Out?

For this reader, the headline on the Drudge Report simply shouted out for a click: “‘Racist’ L.A. police dogs only bite Latinos and African-Americans.”  I didn’t know which website the click would take me to, but I was sure of what the story would say.  I would not be disappointed.

And sure enough, the link took me to a story at the website for The Independent, a newspaper in the United Kingdom that in an editorial earlier this year described itself as “proudly liberal.”  And I read on to discover that in the tradition of proud liberals on both sides of the Atlantic, The Independent ran a sensational headline above a story that elevated leftist ideology over serious reporting.  “Police officers in Los Angeles have long faced accusations of institutional racism,” the story begins, “but now it appears their dogs may be unjustly discriminatory, too.”

Yes, everyone knows about the racist cops in L.A., but these guys even have racist dogs.  The depravity!

Accompanying the story was a photograph of a Los Angeles Police Department officer holding a dog on a leash.  Just out of frame, the reader might presume, is some unfortunate black or Latino quivering at the immediate prospect of being served up to this racist beast.  But as I continued to read, I learned that the story was not about the LAPD and its snarling pack of hounds (but you know theirs are just as bad), but rather about the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.  That the photograph depicts an officer and dog from one department while the story itself concerns supposed problems in another indicates that the editors at The Independent either don’t know the difference between the two agencies or don’t find the distinction meaningful.  Either way, it’s sloppy journalism, but just a hint of what followed.

The story described the findings contained in a report (PDF) issued by the Police Assessment Resource Center, a Los Angeles-based non-profit group devoted to “advancing effective and accountable policing.”  The president of PARC is one Merrick Bobb, a man I described some years ago as “every liberal’s favorite police ‘expert.’” Mr. Bobb, despite a complete lack of police experience, has for many years made a respectable living providing “oversight” to various police agencies, including the L.A. Sheriff’s Department.

The authors of the PARC report are in dismayed wonderment to discover that the great majority of criminal suspects bitten by Sheriff’s Department dogs are black and Latino.  The report begins to explain why this is so – or appears to – before eliding the facts behind the disparity, facts from which the liberal mind recoils.  “[T]he vast majority of the canine deployments occurred in high crime areas.  Accordingly, the likelihood for deployment may be crime related.”

Sounds reasonable, no?  But then we get this:

We observed, however, that large swathes of LASD’s jurisdiction, encompassing generally affluent areas with smaller minority populations, had few [canine] deployments or bites.  Crime rates are lower in these areas, but the stark disparity leads us to wonder why canine deployments seem to occur disproportionately in less affluent areas with larger minority populations.

In this passage we see the liberal mindset that obstinately refuses to acknowledge the correlation between race and crime in America, a correlation no less obvious to the impartial observer in Los Angeles than in any other city one could name.  One must attend graduate school to be rendered so pitiably oblivious to the obvious.  The “stark disparity” in dog bites is roughly proportional to the similarly stark disparity in crime rates among areas patrolled by the Sheriff’s Department.  In those areas where crime is highest, which, to the discomfit of liberals, happen to be those areas in which blacks and Latinos are most concentrated, deputies make more arrests, occasionally calling on the assistance of canine units to make them.

In the L.A. Sheriff’s Department, as in the LAPD and most police departments, canine teams are deployed to locate felony suspects who have evaded capture by more conventional means.  This typically involves a car or foot chase, at the end of which a suspect hides in a place he thinks (or hopes) he will not be found.  In such a state of fear, suspects are most often an easy mark for police dogs, which are trained to detect scents given off by people under stress, whatever their race or ethnicity.

But you needn’t take my word for this racial disparity in the crime numbers.  The Los Angeles Times, as reliably liberal as any mainstream newspaper in the country, publishes on its website the Homicide Report, which includes a map depicting where the county’s homicides have occurred this year.  You’ll note that the largest circle on the map, denoting the highest number of homicides, is centered near the interchange of the Harbor and Century Freeways, right in the heart of heavily black and Latino South-Central L.A.  The Times also details the race or ethnicity of every L.A. County homicide victim back to Jan. 1, 2007.  Of the 5,039 victims tallied as of Oct. 4, 2,513, or about half, have been Latino, and 1,652, or about 33 percent, have been black.  Los Angeles County’s population is nearly 10 million, of which about 48 percent are Latino and about 9 percent are black.  Thus, in the words of the L.A. Times: “That means one in a 1,000 [sic] blacks became homicide victims over those three years, more than 10 times the rate for whites and nearly four times the rate for Latinos.”

Given that most homicides are intra-racial, we can conclude that the perpetrators of these crimes reflect a similar racial and ethnic pattern.  And if homicides can be considered a benchmark for violent crime in a county or an area within it, it is safe to assume these numbers reflect the overall criminal population in L.A. County, i.e., those whose behavior makes them more likely than others to be the object of Sheriff’s Department canine search.

But explaining this to the editors at The Independent and their readers is, I fear, a fool’s errand.  They would have you believe that the only guns and drugs to be found in the more troubled neighborhoods of Los Angeles are those that have been planted on innocent people by racist cops – with the help of their equally racist dogs.

(Thumbnail on PJM homepage based on a modified Shutterstock.com image.)