SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — “Bark not bite” is the Department of Justice’s new recommendation for how Sacramento Police Department K9s should be trained.

In the 2020 report and recommendations for the department, the DOJ asked the Sacramento Police Department to modify its canine-related policies. The Sacramento City Council requested a review of the city’s police department tactics after officers killed Stephon Clark in 2018.

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The department initially shut down the suggestion, but it’s found its way back into the report.

“I hope that this is something that Californians, especially those in law enforcement, will heed and pay attention to,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said.

The Attorney General’s recommendation wasn’t to get rid of police dogs in Sacramento, but instead to retrain them to find their target and bark rather than find and bite.

“It’s possible but it would be a difficult task,” Police K9 Instructor Kerry Halligan said.

Halligan has 20 years of experience working with police dogs and says retraining a K9 is tough and expensive.

“Most police dogs that are fully trained have a value of $30,000 to $50,000. And that’s to purchase the dog, the experience, the training. So it would probably be a large chunk of change for an agency,” Halligan said.

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More than 30% of the Sacramento Police Department’s use of force cases involve a police dog.

“I think it’s good to have different tools other than guns to de-escalate situations if need be,” Tanya Faison with Black Lives Matter said.

Faison says K9s tend to do the opposite of de-escalation.

“They use their dogs as weapons,” she said.

The Sacramento Police Department says they will review the Phase 2 recommendations and will communicate any changes to policing policies they choose to implement.

The Attorney General is also encouraging the department to change its focus to de-escalating incidents before use of force is necessary. The report identified issues with choices made by officers in more than half of the use of force incidents it reviewed.

The most common problem was missed opportunities to de-escalate the situation. Additionally, the report found Sacramento officers used chokeholds more than other police departments.

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But, the AG did commend Sacramento police for eliminating the use of “carotid restraints” last month.