So how much longer untill US Dept's start doing this? http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/...+dog+squads+for+fear+of+being+sued/article.do Police to muzzle dog squads for fear of being sued 15.10.06 The police are worried about compensation claims Police dogs are being muzzled to stop them biting and injuring suspected criminals, it emerged yesterday. The policy, devised by North Wales Police, comes as a result of increased compensation claims from members of the public who have been bitten by police dogs. Officers say the toothless tactic provides a safer way to tackle unco-operative offenders, and it may soon be adopted by dog squads across the country. But critics say it is another example of political correctness gone mad - putting the rights and safety of criminals before cutting crime and protecting the public. Rather than biting suspects, the dogs have instead been trained to disable their targets by leaping at them and delivering a flying 'head-butt'. The tough Belgian Malinois breed - similar to an Alsatian - is favoured by the North Wales force, which is headed by controversial chief Richard Brunstrom. To protect the animals, a metal rod across the front of the muzzle helps absorb the impact of the strike. 'Instead of biting, the dog is muzzled and launches itself like a missile at the midriff of the target,' said Deputy Chief Constable of North Wales, Clive Wolfendale. 'It is one of the additional options open to us to muzzle our dogs and get them to use a head butt,' said Sgt Ian Massie. 'We believe it is a safer option for an offender to be head-butted.' But retired dog handler John Barrett, who served for 18 years with the Metropolitan Police, is critical of the new tactic. 'This sounds like political correctness. It is very strange - I think the public would laugh at you with a muzzled dog, and it could be counterproductive if people think the dog has to be muzzled because it is dangerous.' The officer that pioneered the technique, Sgt Gareth Crowe, says the flying head charge is the equivalent of a baton blow if the dog has a full run-up. The technique has been deemed so successful that muzzled dogs are also being used for crowd control at football games. 'Sometimes people think a dog can't do anything because it is muzzled, and they are caught out be the power and speed of the tactic,' said Sgt Crowe. 'For me, it is a high-level use of force to physically bite a person. We've now got a continuum of force that gives us another tactical option to deploy the dog. 'The 'conflict management model' of policing says that any force must be reasonable under the circumstances. It is clearly to gain control, prevent injury to the officer or others, and prevent damage to property.' North Wales Police Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom earlier this year faced criticism from within his own ranks for plans to award his officers points for making arrests or handing out fines. Under the scheme, they could receive twice as many for seizing an abandoned car as for making an arrest. Mr Brunstrom, the Government's adviser on road safety and speed cameras, has earned himself the nickname the 'Mad Mullah of the Traffic Taliban'. In 2003, he called for the number of cameras to be trebled and the following year admitted getting officers to 'hide behind road signs and walls' with handheld devices. His force has also been criticised for its appalling burglary clear-up rate and for launching costly inquiries into alleged anti-Welsh comments by Tony Blair and Anne Robinson.