The trial in Minneapolis of police officer Derek Chauvin, accused of murdering George Floyd, highlights a national problem: inadequate policies and training of law enforcement officers to prevent the excessive use of force.

The Lafayette Police Department may suffer from this problem, particularly with respect to the use of canines in detaining individuals and making arrests. A special prosecutor is currently investigating excessive use of force in the canine mauling of Richard Bailey Jr. by an LPD officer.

In May 2020, Bailey was stopped by police and without explanation was ordered to get off his moped. When Bailey refused to dismount, three officers pulled him off the moped and pinned him to the ground while one of them commanded a canine to attack him. Bailey sustained severe injuries to the neck and almost died.

The same police officer who directed the dog against Bailey is being sued by another Lafayette man, Frank Dowell, for an event in 2016, which seems remarkably like the Bailey case. Dowell claims that he was in handcuffs and on the ground when the officer ordered the dog to attack him.

Based on data reported by the Lafayette Journal & Courier and the Indy Star, Lafayette has a much greater rate of police dog bites for its population than many other cities.

We should keep close watch on the special prosecutor's investigation of the Bailey incident and the Frank Dowell lawsuit to ensure that LPD enacts policies that provide police accountability and protect the people of Greater Lafayette from harm.

— Frank Rosenthal, professor in the department of health and kinesiology

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