Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome wants Baton Rouge Police to stop siccing its police dogs on fleeing juveniles if there's no immediate threat.
Broome was responding today to an article by The Advocate and The Marshall Project that shows BRPD is an outlier among police agencies that have K-9 units. From 2017 to 2019, Baton Rouge police dogs bit suspects at an alarming rate — 146 people. That was the second highest per-capita rate of dog bites seen among more than 50 cities examined by The Marshall Project.
More than four dozen times, the dogs bit people age 17 and lower. The youngest was age 13. That, too, made Baton Rouge unusual: The rate at which juveniles are bitten by police dogs here is more than double the next-highest rate found in 13 cities analyzed by The Marshall Project.
Also, almost all of those bitten in Baton Rouge were Black, though just over 50% of the city's population is Black.
The mayor-president noted that, since 2019, Baton Rouge police have mandated the use of body cameras by officers with police dogs. Those officers had previously been exempt from that requirement. All dog deployments are also reviewed, she said.
Today's statement advances city policies further. Broome told Chief Murphy Paul to not use dogs against juveniles running away unless the situation demands it.
"We need to ensure the trust of the public is earned and maintained. The practice of using K-9 Units in Baton Rouge must be accountable and acceptable. This necessity is heightened even more when a juvenile is involved. Therefore, I have directed Chief Paul to revise our policy so the pursuit of juveniles with dogs is discontinued for mere flight and when there is no immediate threat at hand," Broome said.
Broome also said the Advocate article, which was published online this morning, raised important points.
"The data presented illustrates an inequity of utilization based on age and race of the suspect," she said. "I embrace this journalistic work in our process to continue improving our department and shining light on areas of improvement."