This web site serves as a resource for K9-related information serving law enforcement that also includes occasional email blasts on the topic to subscribers and previous attendees of Canine Liability 360. It has been updated to make it easier to access and more user friendly. I have posted information below about the “Canine Liability 360” class with upcoming classes and fees listed (further below). The status of the class is dependent upon the COVID pandemic as described below.
I am posting articles and sharing “Reasons We Get in Trouble” archived (in the right column or below) as time allows. Please “subscribe to email list” on this page if you want to be on my email list and receive notifications of “Reasons” postings or other posts sent via this web site. Thanks for your continued support!
– Bill Lewis II
Some “tactics” to prepare you for court and the street….
Canine Liability 360
CL360 is still rated as the most comprehensive liability seminar being offered to handlers and K9 supervisors since 2010 according to attendee feedback! Here are the Canine Liability 360 classes currently scheduled in 2021 with more information below;
September 7 & 8 (2021) – Olympia, Washington
NOTE: Classes in 2021 will be scheduled after July 1. There were 7 classes cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19. There are no immediate plans to reschedule those classes except in Olympia. Classes scheduled in 2021 are subject to cancellation based on registrations and the status of COVID and could be cancelled approximately 60 days prior to the start date of the class.
“Being consistent, making good decisions and keeping proper documentation will limit your liability and make you a better K9 handler and K9 supervisor.”
CL360 is a 2-day (16 hours) course that serves as an essential phase for the handler and supervisor to assist in managing their K9 program and preparing for their potential “legal defense” to prevail in the event of a lawsuit or claim by examining TAC Team’s “360 Degrees of Responsibility” involving a single purpose patrol dog or cross-trained police service dog assigned to patrol and/or a tactical team. The instructor is Sergeant Bill Lewis II (Retired) with over 40 years of law enforcement and instructor experience related to patrol operations, K9, SWAT, supervision, and leadership. He has published various articles relating to legal trends, case decisions, K9 teams and K9 programs. He started working with K9 teams in 1980 as a decoy and later as a handler, supervisor, instructor, trial judge, consultant, unit evaluator, certifying official and expert witness – over 31 years of K9-related experience.
“The biggest liability with training police K9 teams today is the majority of the time is spent training the dog.”
K9 handlers, K9 supervisors, and administrators with K9 oversight from the same agency are encouraged to attend together so everyone involved with their respective police dog program can simultaneously learn information and hear recommendations for successfully running their program. By doing so, they should all leave with a better understanding of each other’s duties and responsibilities to reduce risk and limit liability. This class has been taught across the United States to experienced – and newly-appointed – K9 handlers, K9 supervisors, K9 administrators, patrol supervisors, patrol watch commanders, SAR handlers, Police Chiefs, SWAT supervisors, and SWAT team leaders as well as city attorneys, a county attorney, prospective handlers, decoys, K9 trainers, an Assistant Police Chief, risk managers, and supervisors/administrators preparing to start or contemplating their own K9 program.
“The best time to prepare for a lawsuit and prevail is before the bite occurs.”
Participants will learn from the firsthand experiences of the instructor – successes and mistakes – as well as experiences of other handlers and supervisors involved with other K9 programs as some cases, videos and incidents not found in “case law updates” are reviewed and lessons learned shared. CL360 goes beyond case law and legal updates to address almost every relevant aspect involved with a K9 program. The class will include a review prior to the class of actual K9 deployment narratives with related discussion about the reports during the class as well as a report writing exercise at the class as part of the report writing section.
Note: CL360 is not recommended for detection-only K9 handlers. The primary focus of the class addresses the use of patrol (“bite”) dogs and the associated liabilities to potentially reduce risk and avoid trouble. Handlers of single purpose tracking/trailing dogs that may or may not bite a suspect at the end of the trail could benefit from attending this class.
Information shared in this class will assist in K9 program management and may also assist to maintain or justify the retention of your K9 program during budget “cutback” considerations in these tough economic times.
CL360 has been submitted by host agencies and approved for state (like POST) continuing education credit in Missouri, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Oregon, Minnesota, Montana, Ohio, Nevada, North Dakota, and Idaho.
Are you a new K9 supervisor? Have you recently attended a liability and supervision course regarding K9 operations and supervision? Do you have any previous “K9” experience? CL360 courses usually have 50% or more of supervisors and commanders in attendance with “zero” hands-on experience with police dogs and K9 operations – and that’s commendable because they are attending these classes to learn about their K9-related duties and responsibilities.
CL360 course topics include:
“Reasons We Get in Trouble”
“Control and Case Law”
Policy & Operational Manual
Deposition & Trial Testimony
Use of Force and K9 Deployments
Selection and Retention
Training & Documentation
Deployments and Debriefs
“The Court of Public Opinion”
Dealing with Unintentional Bites
Evidence Collection & Retention
Off-Duty Care & Compensation
Supervision and Discipline
Attendee comments from course evaluations and e-mails;
“This course exceeded my expectations due to the amount of information. This course covered all the needed information, not only for the new supervisor, but ones that have been around awhile.”
“I have been to two separate canine liability classes and this class by far was the best and most informative.”
“Bill [Lewis] was a great speaker, highly knowledgeable on K9 programs and how to avoid a disastrous outcome after a deployment.”
“Excellent class! One of the best K-9 classes I have attended in my 14 years as a K-9 handler.”
“Today was the last day to our Canine Liability  course and I was left with a huge weight on my shoulders. This is because I realized how much my unit needs to change. We are really behind on the use of updated forms to document our training, apprehension reports and policies. I am going to be working really hard for the next few weeks getting us updated. I am sending you this email to thank you for opening up my eyes and realizing the deficiencies now so that I can make the changes before it’s too late. Again thank you very much for your instruction. The class exceeded my expectations as indicated on my class survey.”
“Thanks for the great training. Our training group got a lot out of it and it gave us more inspiration to change how we train.”
“I had lots of compliments about your class. I remember when I first started as an officer, my department sent me to the Street Survival Seminar. I told one of our guys at your [CL360] class that I classified it as the ‘K9 Officer’s Street and Court Survival seminar.'”
“I thought your class was one of the best I’ve attended which includes continuing legal classes as well as law enforcement classes. Your class was clear and practical.”
“This was an invaluable course that contained tons or relevant, realistic information. Things taught and learned are applicable to all police organizations. Bill Lewis does an outstanding job relating his experience and the realities of the K9 world. He talks about mistakes and solutions to issues that arise.”
“By the way, we are doing a K9 handler oral board today. I’m glad I went to your class. It has already been very helpful.” (sent via email two days after a class)
“Bill [Lewis] has a ton of knowledge and readily shared it with the entire class.”
“I learned our agency is on the right path but I also learned we could do better.”
“I am a K9 coordinator for our K9 unit but was never a handler myself. This class gave me the basis for understanding some critical areas of liability in my own department.”
“There was no stone left uncovered – everything was covered from forms to policies to case laws to reference materials.”
“You covered as much in one day than a 3-day K-9 supervision class I attended and did it better.”
“This class is a MUST for lieutenants and captains regardless of their K9 affiliation. This way, when a K9 supervisor makes a request, we won’t run into red tape and money issues.”
“Excellent instructor! I would e-mail him in a heartbeat if I had an issue or questions.”
“Opened my eyes to problems with my department’s K9 unit.”
“Your course exceeded my expectations and helped me realize just how much I did not know!”
“I had no experience as a [K9] supervisor. I feel more comfortable now having this knowledge.”
“As a patrol sergeant, this class covered the 360 degrees of K9 work for me.”
“You were able to impart of lot of knowledge…while keeping the attention of the entire class. This is not an easy thing to do in a room full of cops.”
“Almost everything taught is something that can be taken back to our unit that will better prepare and protect our handlers and other officers who work with the K9 unit.”
“As we all know, law and liabilities are boring but very necessary topics. This class was NOT boring!”
“I thought this class would be like others I have attended. I was wrong and received very useful information.”
“I wanted to say thank you for the class. That was one of the best trainings I have been to and I learned a ton. I look forward to working with our K9 handlers and continuing to learn more.”
“I’ve been in canine for six years and have been to many legal updates that included liability. My expectations for this course were high and you met them. Thank you.”
“I learned more from you in one day than a 5-day [K9 commanders] course I took.”
“[Bill Lewis] was one of the most knowledgeable instructors I’ve heard on this topic.”
Canine Liability 360 – September 7 & 8, 2021 – Olympia, Washington. Hosted by Thurston County Sheriff’s Office. Limited to 36 law enforcement personnel on a first-come basis. Tuition is $275 per person. Reservations are required prior to tuition payment and accepted by email addressed to Bill Lewis II at firstname.lastname@example.org as well as questions or inquiries.
Host agencies of Canine Liability 360 receive complimentary spots based on the number of paid registrations. If your agency, organization or association is interested in hosting a class, contact Bill Lewis II at email@example.com for the hosting requirements.
“Canine Liability for Patrol Supervisors” is a modified one-day (8 hours) version of CL360 presented by Bill Lewis II to assist patrol supervisors and watch commanders with minimal to zero knowledge of K9 operations and policies who are currently supervising or who may supervise patrol K9 handlers – but are not now assigned as the designated K9 supervisor. (This class is NOT RECOMMENDED for K9 handlers or K9 supervisors.) In most agencies, patrol supervisors, not the designated K9 supervisor, are assigned as the immediate supervisors for patrol K9 handlers and responsible for the first-line supervision and primary evaluation of the handlers. Immediate supervisors and other patrol supervisors become “K9 supervisors” in terms of liability when a K9 team is deployed under their supervision during a field operation or works in the field under their general supervision. Patrol supervisors are usually knowledgeable with patrol operations and liability aspects related to the other less lethal tools, but less familiar with patrol supervision and liability as it relates directly to the police service dog.