It never ceases to amaze us how out of touch California is with the rest of the United States – whether through its illegal sanctuary cities, its far-left representation in the state legislature and Congress, its overly strict gun laws or its shameful honor of being home to the often-liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, among the most overturned courts in the country.
Another absurd thing to add to this list is a new proposal offered by some lawmakers regarding when police officers may open fire on a suspect. The legislation would change the standard from “reasonable force” to “necessary force.” This means officers would be allowed to shoot only if “there were no other reasonable alternatives to the use of deadly force” to prevent imminent serious injury or death. The tougher proposed standard could require officers to delay confronting a suspect who they fear may be armed until backup arrives, or force police to give explicit verbal warnings that suspects will be killed unless they drop the weapon.
Officers also might have to use de-escalation techniques or try non-lethal weapons before shooting. The proposal would open officers who don’t follow the stricter rules to discipline or firing, sometimes even criminal charges.
This proposal is simply asinine. Police officers already have a hard enough time trying to do their duty and stay alive without the government making these tasks even more difficult.
The proposal comes after a 22-year-old unarmed black man, Stephon Clark, was fatally shot by police. Two Sacramento police officers chased Clark, who was suspected of breaking into cars, into his grandparents’ darkened backyard and opened fire within seconds without identifying themselves as police because they said they thought he had a gun. Police have said Clark was facing and advancing toward officers when he was killed. Investigators later said they only found a cellphone.
While it is very unfortunate that this man is dead, we don’t know all the details, as the investigation continues. But a ground chase in the dark has to be scary for officers who suspect someone might have a gun. Maybe they thought the cellphone was a gun and that is why they opened fire. Again, time will tell, but to make a proposal like this that would handcuff police and potentially put their lives in more danger than they already are just seems absurd.
Comments from the likes of Assemblyman Chris Holden only further show the absurdity of the proposed legislation. Holden said, “We should no longer be the target practice or victims of a shoot first, ask questions later police force.”
Statements like this portray police officers as people who enjoy using their weapons to kill people. This could not be further from the truth. Most police officers are good people who do a very dangerous job to the best of their ability. They don’t want to have to use their firearms to take a life, but they do like to have them if they believe their life is being threatened, such as when a suspect pulls a gun on them or starts shooting at them.
Some in law enforcement call the proposal “irresponsible and unworkable.”
Officers already are trained to use deadly force only when necessary and are taught to try to defuse dangerous situations first when possible, said Ed Obayashi, a Plumas County sheriff’s deputy and special prosecutor who trains officers and testifies in court on police use of force.
Tinkering with legal protections for police could make it more difficult to hire officers and is dangerous because they may hesitate when confronting an armed suspect, threatening themselves and bystanders, Obayashi said.
Obayashi is correct. He, like most law enforcement officials, actually get it, unlike some in the California legislature.
The Peace Officers Research Organization of California, the largest group representing law enforcement in the state, called the proposal irresponsible legislation. The organization said, “The end result is that the public will be placed at greater risk.”
At the end of the day, police officers’ lives matter, too. We should do all we can to see that they are protected and allowed to use their weapons, if necessary, not handcuffed and with their lives put even more in harm’s way than it already is.
This legislation would do just that if passed into law, which is all the more reason it should be voted down quickly.