An active shooter armed with hundreds of rounds of ammunition and multiple firearms picks a public place and begins shooting. After just a few minutes, and an unimaginable amount of casualties and injuries to innocent bystanders, emergency crews race onto the scene.
Now, instead of seeing their target, honing in on the danger and putting a stop to the threat, two U.S. Representatives say that police need to change how they handle it — first by asking the threat to stop hurting people before taking appropriate action.
It’s called the PEACE act, and it’s a call to overhaul the system by which police are authorized to use deadly force to neutralize a threat and protect the public.
“It is past time to end a legal standard for use of force that permits Americans to be killed as a first resort – rather than only when absolutely necessary – and with little accountability,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California), co-author of the bill said in press release on Wednesday.
PEACE stands for Police Exercising Absolute Care with Everyone. Rep. Clay said that, “our new legislation would prohibit the use of deadly force by federal law enforcement unless no other reasonable alternative exists.”
Those representatives say fatal officer involved shootings are a statistic that’s unfairly affecting a greater number of minorities, and their new bill would put a stop to it.
“This disproportionately impacts African Americans, who make up only 13 percent of the U.S. population but account for 25 percent of those Americans tragically shot and killed by police each year,” he continued. “Immediately resorting to lethal force rather than using proven de-escalation tactics increases risks for both citizens and police officers. We have to do more than change the rhetoric: we have to change the laws.”
Now it’s being called an “insult to law enforcement” for the standards that it sets.
The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) quickly criticized the legislation, noting that it was ridiculous to believe that an officer’s ‘first resort’ tactics would be to shoot the suspect they’re dealing with.
FLEOA President Larry Cosme said in a press release that not only is the cause for the legislation unfounded, but the representatives actually have their figures wrong, causing members of law enforcement agencies across the U.S. to wonder if they did any research before authoring the bill, or just decided to move forward with it based on politics and pushing a narrative.
“The legislation introduced by Representatives Lacy Clay and Ro Khanna is an insult to law enforcement that will inhibit their ability to maintain the peace rather than protect it, as the name suggests,” Cosme said. “The PEACE Act itself, as well as the rhetoric surrounding its introduction, imply that federal law enforcement use deadly force as a first resort.”
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Cosme dropped some knowledge about police and deadly force in his statement this week.
“This is outrageous considering that in 2017 an estimated 1,247,321 violent crimes were reported, 987 of these cases involved lethal use of force by police. Of these, 95 percent of individuals were armed. Law enforcement officers use force when necessary to protect the public and themselves and discouraging them from doing so is dangerous,” he said.
Cosme went on to say that these representatives have absolutely no idea how quickly a situation can escalate from something that seems peaceful to a moment when an officer may be fighting to save their own life or the lives of bystanders.
“Furthermore, the proposed legislation seems ignorant of the reality of the situation in which force is necessary,” Cosme continued. “Situations escalate in seconds and law enforcement are often called to the scene of already volatile situations. Under this legislation, law enforcement must take the time to conclude the age, language, physical and mental condition of an active threat before even issuing conditional warnings to the individual.”
Now let’s look at the Dayton mass shooting that occurred just last month and how the quick response of law enforcement confronted the shooter and ended the mayhem just moments after it began.
Cosme says that if the PEACE law had been in effect, who knows how many more lives would’ve been taken.
“If these conditions were used in the Dayton, Ohio or other mass shootings these incidents may have been exacerbated by a delayed law enforcement response due to parameters outlined in this politically motivated legislation,” Cosme said.
To finish off his argument, Cosme reiterated to the two representatives that national standards already exist in order to keep officers from using deadly force when it was not justified.
”This legislation also neglects established precedent and policy on use of force which officers and agents dutifully follow in nearly every situation. Graham v. Connor, a unanimous Supreme Court decision, held that an objective reasonableness standard should be applied when determining the proper level of force. Additionally, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s official policy regarding use of force already requires agents only use deadly force when necessary to protect against the imminent threat of death of serious bodily injury. All agencies have similar policies tailored to their mission,” he said.
It calls for peace… but it might actually put the lives of more Americans – especially police officers – in serious danger.
Looks like this one needs some attention.
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