December 28, 2021
Canine Model Policy
(Click link above to see full PDF of policy)
    1. The purpose of this policy is to set best practices for canine handlers in Washington state pursuant to Chapter 320, Laws of 2021 (ESHB 1054). Making our communities safer, reducing violence, and preserving lives must be at the forefront of all law enforcement work, including the use of police canines.
      1. The Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (WSCJTC) recognizes several requirements set forth in other recently enacted legislation and statute. “The legislature intends to address excessive force and discriminatory policing by establishing a requirement for law enforcement and community corrections officers to act with reasonable care when carrying out their duties, including using de-escalation tactics and alternatives to deadly force. Further, the legislature intends to address public safety concerns by limiting the use of deadly force to very narrow circumstances where there is an imminent threat of serious physical injury or death. It is the intent of the legislature that when practical, peace officers will use the least amount of physical force necessary to overcome actual resistance under the circumstances. It is the fundamental duty of law enforcement to preserve and protect all human life.” (Chapter 324, Laws of 2021, E2SHB 1310).


    1. The WSCJTC must convene a work group to develop a model policy for the training and use of canine teams. The WSCJTC must ensure that the work group is equally represented between community and law enforcement stakeholders, including certain representatives and interest groups. The model policy work group must consider:
      1. training curriculum, including the history of race and policing;
      2. circumstances where the deployment of a canine may not be appropriate;
      3. circumstances where deployment of a canine on leash may be appropriate;
      4. strategies for reducing the overall rate of canine bites;
      5. circumstances where a canine handler should consider the use of tactics other than deploying a canine;
      6. explicitly prohibiting the use of canines for crowd control purposes;
      7. canine reporting protocols;
      8. circumstances where the use of voluntary canines and canine handlers may be appropriate; and
      9. identifying circumstances that would warrant the decertification of canine teams.