Attorneys seeking a expert analysis of police dog behavior, particularly with reference to the unusually dangerous nature of these dogs, need to consider the perspective of animal behavior rather than a perspective proffered by a police dog handler.
There is a fundamental difference between an animal behaviorist knowledgeable about police dog attacks versus the police dog handler. Essentially, the animal behaviorist makes analysis of police dog apprehension asking “why “questions about motivation, temperament factors which control behavior and selection of these dogs for police work rather than addressing issues about “how” the dog was trained for attack work or the validity of the training methods used.
The police dog handler is an expert at training a police dog to search for and attack a suspect on command and how to stop the attack once it starts. Using this perspective, a police dog handler qualifies as a dog bite expert on police dogs. Nonetheless, how to make a police dog perform a behavior or sequence of behaviors requires a different understanding from why the police dog performs a particular behavior. Hence, a perspective using animal behavior analysis is required to answer why questions about police dog behavior.
As such, animal behavior analysis addresses why police canines are unpredictable, why animal behavior criteria is of crucial importance in the selection of police dogs, why police canines are exceptionally dangerous and why police canines inflict severe injury to a suspect during apprehension. Competent analysis of these type of “why” questions are usually beyond the scope of most police dog handlers. Moreover, the analysis of why questions directly impact questions about a handler’s ability to properly control a police dog in a given set of circumstances.
This commentary provided by Richard Polsky, PhD. Dr. Polsky has qualified in federal court to opine about issues such as excessive force through employment of the “bite-and-hold” technique and the selection of police dogs for use in suspect apprehension. Contact information for Dr. Polsky can be found here.