It is not often that I read something and become so personally affected, but today it happened. Representatives William “Lacy” Clay of Missouri and Ro Khanna of California announced that they are sponsoring a bill that has so many misguided points, the very thought of calling it the “PEACE” bill is preposterous. The most dangerous part of this proposed legislation is the way it is worded. Each point starts with PROHIBITION. The biggest concern is the final point, which states that police must use the “LEAST amount of force” on particular individuals.
Specifically cited in the bill, “persons experiencing perceptual or cognitive impairments due to us of alcohol, narcotics, hallucinogenic, or other drugs.”
So as we are being attacked, we are supposed to assess whether they meant to do it or is it the drugs making them? Given that law enforcement primarily deals with people who are under the influence of unlawful substances, this bill states that police should use the least amount of force on a person who voluntarily violates the law, uses narcotics, and then commits an act of violence?
And beyond the ridiculousness of the prohibition of lethal force, they even want to restrict LESS LETHAL force? Less lethal options save lives. I thought that was the point of the bill? In fact, after many shootings the first response from the left is “why couldn’t they have used a beanbag or TASER” or the more ludicrous response “why not shoot the offender in the leg?” Even shortly after Michael Brown attacked Officer Wilson, the Washington Post published, “It’s a revelation certain to renew the debate over whether more police departments should require all officers to carry the nonlethal weapon as an additional tool to prevent confrontations from escalating.”
Like many of the candidates hoping to become POTUS, including Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, they are using the “anniversary” of the JUSTIFIED police shooting of would-be cop killer Michael Brown to promote more violence against law enforcement. Representative Clay even stated, “Ferguson was a dramatic symptom of an illness that is prevalent across our nation in which some officers hired to protect and serve essentially terrorize our communities.” He added that that the unprovoked attack “could have been defused in another way.” The same guy went on to say that police officers need to use more de-escalation techniques before shooting someone. This includes “requesting” that the suspect not shoot the officer.
Wait….what?! Cops are the “terrorists” and people will stop attacking us if we simply ask them not to?! I’ve been in law enforcement a long time; trust me, when someone is trying to shoot you, your desire to not be shot is implied. In fact, since pointing a gun at another person is an act of aggravated assault, explain to me why anyone should have to ask the gun wielding person not to shoot them? This is insanity.
When discussing the proposed PEACE bill Donald Mihalek, the executive vice president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association Foundation, reminded us that the 1989 Supreme Court decision in Graham vs. Connor “recognized you can’t judge these incidents that often occur in microseconds with 20/20 hindsight.” I wish the politicians proposing the “PEACE” bill, which stands for “Police Exercising Absolute Care with Everyone,” would go back and study the Graham decision.
The danger of the “PEACE” bill is that it will put more of our police officers’ lives at risk. Deadly force is already a last resort. Instead of trying to tie the hands of those who selflessly stand between good and evil, we have to find ways to reduce violence against them. Utilizing the attack on Officer Darren Wilson as a vessel to claim law enforcement is “terrorizing” communities is ignorant, given that the Department of Justice cleared Officer Wilson. Michael Brown was a gang banging criminal who had terrorized his own community, committing a strong armed robbery just hours before his attack on Officer Wilson. The misinformation that spread after that incident incited unprecedented levels of violence across the nation, mostly violence against law enforcement.
Having been forced to take the life of another human being, I am angry. That moment changed my life and the lives of my family forever. It changed the person I was. The naïve young woman from the Midwest was gone, and the curtain hiding reality of true evil in the world was forever ripped down. No matter how justified my shooting was, it is not something I just did and forgot. That moment walks with me every day. It’s always there, over my shoulder. It isn’t so loud anymore, but it’s there. It is a sixty second event that ended the life of one person and changed the life of others forever. I didn’t “decide” to kill him. He decided he would make me do it. When someone is trying to hurt or kill you, they have made a choice. It’s like a car speeding towards a cliff, and no matter how many times you hit the brakes, they don’t work. They won’t respond. No matter what you do, or how many times you pray, scream, tell them to stop, they don’t respond.
Hindsight bias is a dangerous thing. We can and should always learn from any event. We cannot imagine what it is like to be in that moment unless we have been there. An officer who finds themselves fighting for their life has to win. At some point, you have to save yourself and the others who are in danger. Police officers are not expendable. It is not our job to get hurt or die. It is our job to protect others and that may entail sacrificing our life. We will do that if we have to. We will not do that carelessly, we will not give our lives up easily. We will go down fighting, and if someone is trying to take our life, we will do whatever we can to WIN so that we can protect society for yet another day. Our citizens expect that we will protect them from evil. Most would prefer we do that behind the curtain; police use of force isn’t pretty, and no one wants to see it. There are ugly, evil people out there, and it’s our job to deal with them so that our citizens don’t have to. Do cops get scared? You’re damn right we do. But there is courage in acknowledging fear. As John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death, and saddling up anyway.”
The community at large loves their protectors, the annual poll done by the Gallup organization proves this year after year. The voices of people who follow these misguided paths are loud, but that is all they are. They are noise. It is time that our community is louder. It is time to flood social media and the news with positivity and support for law enforcement. It is time to leave notes of support for your officers. Wave, thank them, remind them that they are appreciated.
Remember that after you leave them, they are going to a call where they may have to save a life, or fight for their own. They will be called names, they will be threatened, and they will still do what they promised to do. They will stand between good and evil, a place where not many are brave enough to stand. They will bring peace to chaos. They will do so against insurmountable odds, in the face of criticism. Every moment and every decision will stay with them forever, and yet they will continue to protect you, and we cops will continue to protect each other.
Malone, S. 2019. Blue Lives Matter. Federal Bill Would Require Cops to Ask Suspects Not to Kill Them Before Shooting. Retrieved from: https://defensemaven.io/bluelivesmatter/news/federal-bill-would-require-cops-to-ask-suspects-not-to-kill-them-before-shooting-jGTRhrqRvEuRsrrXHC570Q/
Schlinkmann, M. 2019. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Deadly Force? Only as Federal Officers Last Resort.” Retrieved from: https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/deadly-force-only-as-federal-officers-last-resort-under-bill/article_51a1c360-0b3b-5450-ae08-ab6642d94855.html
Swarts, P. 2014. “Darren Wilsons Missing Taser Renews Debate.” The Washington Post. Retrieved from: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/nov/26/darren-wilsons-missing-taser-renews-debate-over-re/