Yes, you can't bite me

  • Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I came across an article from the South Carolina Sheriff's Association. The article was about an absolute liability law regarding dog bites. The law states in part, ‘whenever any person is bitten or otherwise attacked by a dog while the person is in a public place or is lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog or other person having the dog in his care or keeping, the owner of the dog or other person having the dog in his care or keeping is liable for damages suffered by the person-bitten or otherwise attacked… unless the person provokes a dog into biting him. That's a great law, except it also applies to trained police dogs when acting in the line of duty at the command of their law enforcement handler. Have you figured out where this is going?
Last year an individual now serving time in the department of corrections on drug charges successfully challenged the law claiming that the law as currently written holds the agency liable for the dog bite he suffered when he refused to submit to a lawful order by the deputy sheriff. This convicted person was ultimately awarded a $150,000 settlement. As angry as this makes me knowing if he wasn't in the circumstances he had placed himself in the first place, none of this would ever have occurred, the law is the law.
The settlement in itself is not the issue. Rather, the implication of other lawsuits is.
The SCSA is working to amend the current law because, if not amended, the current law will likely bring an end of the use of police canine units in South Carolina such as our own Williamsburg County Sheriff's Office and Kingstree Police Department's K-9 Units because of the risk of law suits and similar cash settlements against law enforcement agencies. I certainly hope our legislatures will grab the seriousness of this and move as quickly as possible.
How about those terrorists?
A study by the RAND Corporation concludes that Al Qaeda is expanding in number and geographic scope. However, the good news, according to the RAND analysis is "most Al Qaeda affiliates and allies are not actively plotting attacks against the US homeland." Well, that just makes me feel all warm and cozy inside. Instead, the report states "The goal for Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, for example, is to overthrow regimes in North Africa, particularly Algeria, and replace them with an Islamic government." Hooray! We can relax. No more threat of bombs killing thousands of Americans...are you kidding me? Does anyone not see where this is heading? Does stronghold mean anything? Does the notion of overthrowing "other" governments hint to a later movement?
Shhh! They might think you're a terrorist
I'm still pondering the justice department's questionable tactics used in obtaining search warrants for records of 21 phone lines used by reporters and editors for the AP and more specifically, the use of a search warrant to obtain emails of a Fox News journalist. Who’s to say, your next door neighbor - or you - will next be labeled a terrorist just because someone in the justice department says so?
Has anyone told the administration that the bedrock of the justice department is "justice"? Of course, the justice department and Attorney General Eric Holder are revising the department's guidelines - after the controversy simply won't go away. I wonder how long this has really been going on and at what level. Do you think we'll ever know?

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