State lawmakers announced legislation Tuesday that they say will change the legal standard allowing officers to use deadly force on the job, but one valley sheriff is concerned this will make it harder for officers to do their job safely.
Current law allows officers to use lethal force when there is an “objectively reasonable” threat to their safety. Under the new proposal from Assemblymembers Shirley Weber and Kevin McCarty, the use of deadly force would only be allowed when there are no other reasonable alternatives. In press conference Weber said the proposed legislation will hold law enforcement to a higher standard.
“This policy authorizes police to use deadly force only when it is necessary to prevent imminent or serious bodily injury or death,” said Weber.
The bill is a response to the recent police shooting of an unarmed Sacramento man. But the proposal is drawing criticism from some in law enforcement. Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims says that legislating worst-case scenarios could put officers in harm's way.
“By putting additional requirements or restrictions, my fear is that we're going to have law enforcement officers trying to second guess the law and end up getting hurt,” says Mims.
She says that legislators should recognize the many instances where little or no force is used by law enforcement.