By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
You may have heard of Bend Police’s K-9, Kim.
Last week, she helped arrest a Redmond man after a three-hour standoff with police.
And in February, she bit a Terrebonne man who was fighting with a deputy.
The well-known dog also has a well-known nickname: Lil’ Kim. She’s been called that for years in official press releases and at police events.
But the agency now says it will no longer use the nickname — not because of complaints about the name – but because of an internal decision made back in February.
Although police say complaints aren’t the reason for dropping the nickname, the name has drawn criticism from a local activist group.
Two weeks ago, President and CEO of the Central Oregon Black Leaders Assembly Riccardo Waites asked Bend Police to stop calling the dog Lil’ Kim, saying it’s an inappropriate use of a name of an iconic and award-winning rapper.
“K-9’s have been used by law enforcement to intimidate and maim people of color, black people most of all, for centuries,” Waites said.
Lil’ Kim is the stage name of Kimberly Denise Jones, possibly best known for her double-platinum album “Hard Core” or her single “Lady Marmalade,” which topped the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 2001.
“I explained who Lil Kim was, her importance in hip-hop, and her importance to people of color,” Waites said.
Bend Police responded to Waites, saying the dog’s name has always been “Kim,” and she was sometimes referred to as Lil’ Kim because of her smaller stature. The name was unrelated to the rapper, according to Bend PD.
But Bend Police Chief Michael Krantz said the dog will not be called Lil’ Kim anymore – not because of Waites’ request, but because of a change decided on by the agency over a month ago.
“This is just my point of view, and this would be a lot of people of color’s point of view,” Waites said. “For him, it was more important to make sure he didn’t look like he was being told or forced into something, right?”
Waites said he appreciates Bend Police making the change, whether it was because of his letter or not.
But, he said he does wish Krantz could have been more receptive and empathetic to a request coming from the community.
“We want him to care,” Waites said. “We want him to show empathy. He just didn’t.”
Bend PD did provide information for this story, but they declined an on-camera interview.