Courtesy of Lou Castle and Dog Sports Magazine
Click here for the original article.
Louis C. Castle
Culver City, California 90231
June 26, 1993
Dog Sports Magazine
P.O. Box 1000
Glenrock, WY 82637
Re Julia Priest’s interview with Van Bogardus:
I am a past K-9 handler for my police department. I am at present a police sergeant who is the K-9 trainer/instructor for my police department. I am also a past Contributing Editor to your magazine and someone who knew Mr. Bogardus when he got his start in dogs.
I first met Mr. Bogardus in 1980 or 1981, when he was just getting started in dogs. I had been a police service dog handler for about a year or two. We trained together several times in a loosely organized group of handlers and K-9’s that included several cities in the south bay (in the Los Angeles, California, area). I have had numerous conversations with handlers and trainers who know Mr. Bogardus or who know of him. I have read the transcript from a trial where he was an expert witness for the plaintiff who was suing a police department and I have interviewed a juror from a similar trial. I feel that I am qualified to comment on the article.
In the interview Mr. Bogardus mentions an incident in which he thinks he has two armed robbery suspects in one of three houses so he "...decided to search the center house, like a classical box search." Mr. Bogardus told Ms. Priest that he, "...has a strong law enforcement background in...tactics...and as a trainer and team member of the LASD (Los Angeles Sheriffs Department) SWAT team during the 1984 Summer Olympics". In spite of all this expertise, his tactics in searching these houses are extremely poor. By searching the center house first, he exposed himself and his backup officers to the potential for assault by the suspects from both or either sides. It is far more tactically sound to search the downwind house first, then move into the wind to search the other houses. I believe that a "classical box search" or any search, is properly started from the downwind side of the area, where the wind will carry the decoy’s (suspect’s) scent to the K-9.
Mr. Bogardus says, "...(a) dog can only bite one person at a time." What a revelation! Guess what Mr. Bogardus, a police officer can only fight one person at a time! Nothing new about this idea, yet Mr. Bogardus has a problem with it.
Mr. Bogardus reveals one of his major failings in his thoughts regarding a policy whereby a police service dogs bites the suspect when he locates him. Referring to when he was a police service doghandler,he states, "There was no discussion; it was simply you find them and you bite them." He discusses the peer pressure that he was apparently unable to resist. Mr. Bogardus every police officer should have a conscience and a moral code. If you couldn’t withstand the peer pressure and do what you felt was right, you never belonged in the law enforcement profession. In any case, in my 14 years in dogs I have never heard, or even had implied, the slightest bit of peer pressure to have a dog bite every suspect that was found. It simply hasn’t happened. Few line police officers are more familiar with liability, both criminal and civil, than dog handlers.
In his quest to find the answers to his questions Mr. Bogardus went to " Schutzhund people, guard dog services...AKC people..." This, even though he had serious problems with civilians training police officers. There were plenty of people in the local area with the answers to his questions. But he never asked us. Donn Yarnall of the LAPD, several other police trainers and handlers in the local area and I, advocated a minimal force apprehension; and still do. In the civilian field, in the immediate area, Dave Reaver of Adlerhorst Kennels also advocated a minimal force apprehension. Mr. Bogardus knew all of us, yet he never asked.
Where Mr. Bogardus really gets into trouble is when he says that because a dog can not think in abstracts, he should not be allowed to bite except, "...to prevent death or serious injury...to the handler or another person." He says, "The dog is incapable of exercising human judgment." Good one Mr. Bogardus, what a stroke of genius!
Police service dogs don’t need to exercise human judgment. The trainer and handler condition him to recognize a stimulus, a situation, and to respond. At any time the dog makes an error, such as when a drunk falls against the handler and the dog thinks it’s a handler attack, the handler commands the dog not to bite the person. Seems simple doesn’t it?
Mr. Bogardus "...lean(s) quite heavily toward the handler knockdown..." as the criteria for a handler protection bite. Mr. Bogardus, what if the handler trips and falls. The service dog will interpret this as a handler knockdown. Shouldn’t the handler have the control to stop his dog from biting in this or any circumstance? Get this Mr. Bogardus–it’s the handler’s decision whether his dog bites someone or not; never the dog’s. The dog never makes a decision. He merely responds to his training.
A person standing passively, arm outstretched, with a gun pointing at the handler, is not going to knock the handler down until he fires a shot; and then it’s too late. Yet Mr. Bogardus doesn’t "...have a bite command in (his) handler’s vocabulary." This is not a case of a dog needing to make a decision. Shouldn’t the handler have the ability to make that decision? And doesn’t he need a bite command in his vocabularly? It happens rarely that we wish to use a dog against a passive person to reduce injury. An example might be a known suicidal person who is fleeing the police, or a mental patient or a drugged crazed suspect who swears that he will not be taken alive.
In response to a question from Ms. Priest regarding what a police dog should do if his handler is knocked to the ground Mr. Bogardus responds "I want that handler to do what a police officer would do...and that is to seek cover." WHAT??? This is the most convoluted thinking I’ve ever heard. A felon knocks a police officer down and he is supposed to seek cover? Whatever happened to getting up and arresting the suspect. If he knocks the officer down hasn’t the officer already left cover. Now he’s supposed to run away and "seek cover"? What can Mr. Bogardus be thinking?
About the only useful information for either your civilian or law enforcement readers is Mr. Bogardus’ description of testing methods. Although, even there he is inconsistent. In the chapter named "Sneak Attack" a test is described where "The decoy is hidden in a bushy area and the handler moves along...The decoy jumps out in a surprise attack on the handler and shoves the decoy away. At that point, at least we hope, the dog is going to engage the decoy and there will be some muzzle fighting..." Mr. Bogardus, the handler hasn’t been knocked down, why is the dog biting the decoy?
The criteria that Mr. Bogardus establishes for what he calls a "tactical dog" are ridiculous. Any dog selected for police service should be trainable, have a high fight drive, be agile, be stable enough for helicopter insertion, be courageous, have no trouble with darkness, slippery floors or gridding. As for ladder climbing; this trick and so many others are merely a function of selecting a dog with the right degree of the right drives and then exposing him to what you want him to do.
Ms. Priest asks specifically, "What do you see as the mission of the tactical dog as opposed to the patrol dog?" Mr. Bogardus replies, "The primary function is to locate suspects." Isn’t that the function of a patrol dog too? In reality, there is no difference. Either dog locates the suspect and then the police officers take him into custody. Mr. Bogardus even says, "I know my experience with special weapons teams always said that once my dog found the suspect, the team wanted me to get the dog out of the way so that they could operate tactically."
Mr. Bogardus is disappointed "...that most chiefs of police and police managers don’t know a lot about police dogs." When I was a handler I felt that a large part of my duties was to educate those administrators until they had absorbed as much theory and hands–on knowledge as they could assimilate; as much as they needed to make intelligent policy decisions. I continue to have that belief as a trainer/instructor.
Mr. Bogardus says, "...most agencies...do not look at the use of the police dog as a use of force." This is idiotic. Every department considers the dog a use of force. Police departments require that everyone bitten, no matter how slight the injury, receive medical treatment.
Agencies may require a different track for reports documenting the use of dog than for those uses of force documenting pain compliance, baton strikes, mace, and OC (pepper spray). This ensures that a dog bite receives even greater scrutiny than a more common use of force.
Mr. Bogardus says, "...baton injuries require hospitalization or any medical treatment in only about 5.8% of the time." but that police dog bites "...require medical treatment 100% of the time." This is obviously because dog bites result in breaks of the skin, nearly all the time, with the attendant possibility of infection,. Every department police requires that persons bitten by police service dogs receive medical treatment; while medical treatment is not mandated for baton injuries. Most department policies require that a prisoner be taken to a medical facility for such slight problems as a tummy ache, if the prisoner requests it. Civil liability, you know.
The question whether a dog is a tool or a weapon is semantic rubbish. Is a baton a tool or a weapon? Is a gun a tool or a weapon? Is a flashlight a tool or a weapon? Who cares? They are tools of law enforcement used to take criminals into custody when polite conversation fails. When a suspect complies and is not shot, is the gun a tool or a weapon? When he refuses to comply and is shot, is the gun a tool or a weapon? Again; Who cares? Who has time for these semantic games?
Mr. Bogardus is completely misguided in his description of the Fred House incident. Officer House’s deplorable death had nothing to do with a misuse of the dog. It had nothing to do with Mr. Bogardus’ useless rhetoric regarding a dog as a tool or a weapon. It had to do with that fact that Officer House’s position had been compromised without his knowledge. Moments after he sent his dog to apprehend a suspect, he was murdered by the second of over one hundred rounds fired at the law enforcement officers. Officer House would have been killed whether a dog had been present or not. Bogardus’ use of this incident as an argument against the use of a dog is absolutely invalid.
Mr. Bogardus uses many incidents as evidence that the use of a police service dog is deadly force. Those arguments are seriously flawed. He cites the Glendale, California case where a handler’s daughter and wife were seriously bitten and a similar case where death occurred when a dog bit a handler’s daughter in Florida. These are obviously not due to the use a police service dog. They are accidental bites. As Julia Priest says in her follow-up article Legal Research, Common Sense & Bogardus, "To cite this (Glendale) case as ‘a use of a police K-9’ in supporting a ‘deadly force’ argument is not realistic or logical." Many of Mr. Bogardus’ beliefs are not based on reality or logic.
Mr. Bogardus mentions the Tafoya case which occurred in Santa Ana, California. (I believe the correct spelling is Tafolla.) The coroner ruled that death was caused by a cocaine overdose. Mr. Bogardus says, "That was with a suspect allegedly under the influence of something..." When a coroner rules that the cause of death is an overdose, that person is not "allegedly" under the influence. The dog bite had absolutely nothing to do with Tafolla’s death. Mr. Bogardus says, "...it looks pretty clear to me, (Tafolla) went into shock. Never mind that the coroner doesn’t agree. Now Mr. Bogardus is also a medical expert.
In the McCloud case, in Florida, a police service dog bit a transient who was in an area that the police thought contained a fleeing felon. McCloud was transported to a hospital for medical treatment but because she was a long–term alcoholic, her blood didn’t coagulate properly. Despite the best efforts of the hospital staff, McCloud died. A catastrophe yes, but deadly force, no.
Anyone knows that a dog can cause serious injury. As the courts continue to point out, what is at point is the handler’s intent when he sends the dog. This has always been the standard by which deadly force is judged. Never by the outcome, except in Mr. Bogardus’ mind.
Mr. Bogardus is greatly perplexed over the deadly force issue. Dogs have caused death in a few incidents. Unfortunate yes, but not deadly force. Many people have died as a result of being struck by batons, one death is attributed to OC (pepper spray.) Should we place these in the deadly force category? As a result of being punched by a police officer, some unlucky criminal has probably died. Do we now place fists in the deadly force category? As a judge in one of Mr. Bogardus’ recent cases instructed the jury, "Anything can be deadly force."
As Julia Priest so appropriately points out, no less an authority than the Sixth District Court of Appeals, has examined this question in a case where death did occur. In Robbinette v. Barnes: "The use of a properly trained police dog to apprehend a felony suspect does not carry with it a substantial risk of causing death or serious bodily harm." Mr. Bogardus cites this case and says, "...I'm not a lawyer and I'm not a judge, but I think that was just a bad decision." I’m confident that the Appeals Court is deeply moved by Mr. Bogardus’ view. Another court found similarly in Chew v. Gates where a suspect nearly lost his arm as a result of a dog bite. But of course, Mr. Bogardus knows better in this case as well.
Mr. Bogardus mentions the Gorman case in Huntington Beach. Actually the man’s name was Ogorman. He mentions that Ogorman "...was bitten by a police dog after a short vehicle chase...plunged into the Santa Ana River...became hypothermic...(and) died." Actually Mr. Bogardus has the facts in the case reversed. Ogorman waded into the river to escape capture and then the dog was sent to apprehend him after all other means had failed. Never mind that Ogorman’s lungs had collapsed and that he had aspirated (inhaled his own vomitus). Which is a sign of a narcotics overdose. Never mind that his left arm was riddled with illegal injection sites, a sure sign of illegal drug use. Never mind that the doctor who performed the autopsy said that, from his initial observations, he believed that Ogorman had been using heroin. Never mind that Ogorman told people that he was using heroin. Never mind that the official cause of death was "heroin overdose." Never mind all of this. As far as Mr. Bogardus can see, Ogorman was bitten by a police dog and later died, so the dog must be deadly force.
Mr. Bogardus considers a hidden suspect’s refusal to surrender to be passive resistance. No jury that has heard this argument has accepted it, and neither should your readers, be they civilian or law enforcement professionals. Common sense prevails. A suspect commits a felony or is armed when he commits a misdemeanor. He flees from police when they approach, conceals himself when being searched for, and refuses to surrender when located and ordered to do so by searching officers. He is not passively resisting arrest. This is active resistance and the use of force is warranted to prevent this suspect from injuring citizens or arresting officers.
Recently Mr. Bogardus testified as an expert witness for plaintiffs who were suing police agencies in two cases in the Los Angeles area. A juror from one of the trials told me, in an extended conversation, "We (the jury) got the impression of a very disgruntled ex-sheriff who didn’t get his way and left. That came across very clear."
In the first trial Mr. Bogardus testified as to his extensive training experience with Wendell Nope. Mr. Nope is currently the service dog training supervisor for the Utah Police Academy. Mr. Nope testified that he had had conversations with Mr. Bogardus, but that they had never had any hands on training together.
In the second trial Mr. Bogardus testified that he trained one on one, in a "tutoring" situation with Wendell Nope, "...for a week. Probably 60 plus hours of work..." Again Mr. Nope testified that he had had conversations with Mr. Bogardus, but that they never had any hands on training together.
Mr. Bogardus’ description of his background and training are impeached by the very people he says trained him. He projects his shortcomings onto handlers that he now trains and testifies against. By attempting to undermine solid law enforcement operations and maintaining the absurd position that the use of a K-9 is deadly force, he harms law enforcement and that harms all of society.
Louis C. Castle
P.S: Mike, I must apologize for the length of this letter. It’s longer than some of the articles that I’ve written for you. Mr. Bogardus is so off the wall, yet he can affect law enforcement so negatively, that I couldn’t stop. Nearly every statement he made is incorrect, untrue, fallacious, or based on such a lack of logic that I had to refute each of them.