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Stopping Suspects With Police Dogs

March 05, 1996

* Re the two-part series on police dog bites, Feb. 29 and March 1:

Who are we kidding? The criminal justice system is really the criminal Lotto. A criminal commits crimes and when caught he can sue the police who captured him, the good Samaritans who helped and even his victims for fighting back. He can sue and he will win (or at least get an out-of-court settlement) probably more money than most of us law-abiding citizens will ever see in our entire lifetimes.

Your articles on police dogs are a textbook case. When word on the street was that police dogs could "seek and bite" suspects attempting to escape capture, the number of suspects who surrendered peacefully went up. Then, when the lawsuits came and big bucks were handed out to convicted felons who were told to surrender, but resisted arrest and got bitten (as they were told they would be), the new word on the street is that police dogs can only "seek and bark."

Sure, the number of dog bites has gone down, and so has the number of arrests. So now there are more criminals on the streets committing more crimes. Law enforcement is forced to back off the pursuit of criminals who will later sue and win big bucks from a city already perilously close to bankruptcy.

Hey, California legislators-- wanna take a big bite out of crime? How about enacting a law that states if you are caught while committing a crime, or your victim puts up a fight, or you're injured while resisting arrest, then later you're convicted of that crime, you cannot sue anyone connected with your crime for anything--not the police, not your victims, no one. It's time to return to the concept that actions have consequences; if you choose to commit crimes, then anything that happens to you because of your criminal activity is your respon- sibility.

Right now, crime does pay, and until crime doesn't pay, criminals will just keep victimizing innocent citizens and then suing for whatever they can get.

ANNIE CAROLINE SCHULER

West Hollywood

* Eureka! I have discovered how to avoid being bitten by a police dog--don't commit a crime!

GEORGE WOOD

Malibu

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