Federal Bill Would Require Cops To Ask Suspects Not To Kill Them Before Shooting

U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay plans to introduce legislation that would establish a federal use-of-force standard.

St. Louis, MO – U.S. Representative William “Lacy” Clay (D-Missouri) announced new legislation on Friday that would change the use-of-force standard for federal law enforcement officers.

Clay’s proposed measure, known as the PEACE Act, would require police officers to use de-escalation techniques before resorting to deadly force, KMOV reported.

The measure would require states to enact similar use-of-force legislation in order to qualify for federal funding for their law enforcement.

“It would set a new standard. And it makes sense,” Clay told reporters at a press conference to introduce the PEACE Act on Aug. 9. “If the rest of the civilized world can abide by these standards, then it helps us get to a place where we need to be in law enforcement.”

“This new act... changes the way that communities are policed,” he said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Today we continue to strive towards making our country a more perfect union where black lives are respected and valued.”

The bill, co-sponsored by U.S. Representative Ro Khanna (D-California), was introduced on the fifth anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, a controversial officer-involved shooting that led to riots in Ferguson and the promotion of Black Lives Matter.

“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,” Clay said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

But Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson was cleared of wrongdoing in Michael Brown’s death by a St. Louis County grand jury and a U.S. Department of Justice investigation under President Barack Obama’s administration.

The federal investigation concluded that the evidence supported Officer Wilson’s claim that he was acting in self-defense and that Brown was attacking him when the officer opened fire, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Clay told reporters that he thought that Brown's unprovoked attack on Officer Wilson “could have been defused in another way,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

“We’ve learned the names of black men and women that should not have to be known solely because of their deaths by law enforcement: Mike Brown, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner and far too many others,” Clay said.

More than 20 additional lawmakers have signed on to support the PEACE Act, which stands for Police Exercising Absolute Care with Everyone.

Donald Mihalek, executive vice president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association Foundation, pointed out that every federal agency already has a use of force policy that requires deadly force only when an imminent threat of danger to the officer or another person exists.

“Attempting to further restrict a [law enforcement officer’s] use of force parameters will only endanger the officer or others,” Mihalek told Blue Lives Matter in an email. “The NYPD Officers who had buckets and water hurled at them is indicative of a use of force dynamic from their leadership that discourages and punishes officers for taking action.”

Mihalek was referencing multiple recent incidents in New York City where criminals assaulted police officers responding to emergency calls by dumping buckets of water on them.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous 1989 decision in Graham vs. Connor has long been the standard for use-of-force decisions.

“It provides a reasonable officer standard for use of force decisions based on a totality of circumstances,” Mihalek told Blue Lives Matter. “The court recognized you can’t judge these incidents that often occur in microseconds with 20/20 hindsight.”

Washington University law professor Peter Joy said the courts have held that an officer in reasonable fear for their life and safety is permitted to use whatever force they deem necessary, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

“They don’t have to make a judgment [such as] will a stun gun be sufficient,” Joy said.

The professor said he doubted Clay’s bill would pass, partly because of its conflict with stand-your-ground laws enacted by multiple states that allow regular citizens to defend themselves in an attack, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Joy said that if the PEACE Act passed, law enforcement officers “would have less options than citizens would have under stand-your-ground.”

During his announcement of the proposed legislation, Clay said that law enforcement supported his plan, KMOV reported.

However, St. Louis Police Officers Association Spokesman Jeff Roorda, said that is not the case for local law enforcement.

“It’s a very uninformed position the congressman is taking,” Roorda told KMOV. “Every police department in the United States has a continuum of force that they go through before they use deadly force. There’s not a police department in the country that doesn’t use deadly force as a last resort. I don’t know what the goal of this legislation is other than making noise.”

Comments (175)
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Truckerdude
Truckerdude

It's almost getting to the point that the police might have to do either a state or Nationwide strike. Let crime run rampant for a few months and the politicians will grovel on their hands and knees.

Bud
Bud

Clay has been a racist for as long as he has been in the public view, and probably before. He will never be branded as intelligent, he is and has always been a total idiot!

jakki taylor
jakki taylor

It is the media's fault that "we know the names" of Blacks dead after encounters with Law Enforcement. We should know these names from their CRIMES or behavior.

stockjock
stockjock

Please don’t kill me Mr. Bad Guy or I might have to hurt you. Oh wait I hesitated and I’m already dead? Well then I guess it doesn’t matter, have a nice day.

These people really have it wrong. The current use of force standard, where if you or someone else is in danger of death or serious bodily injury, deadly force can be used, is an appropriate standard.

If certain groups of people are getting arrested or shot by police more than others, it suggests that it’s because a disproportionate number of those individuals are engaged in improper or dangerous criminal activities.

To suggest that this is an issue of race is a disservice to the brave police who protect us all.

I believe that I arrested far more minorities than Caucasians, and I also believe that I used force against far more minorities than Caucasians. Believe me, it was never about race.

I think the issue is primarily socioeconomic, so you have to look at the communities that are infested with gangs and drugs and criminal activity. It should not be a shocker that a disproportionate percentage of individuals from those communities have a disproportionately bad experience with law-enforcement.

This bill jeopardizes officer safety.

3 replies

JBo
JBo

The bill is about an agenda...facts are irrelevant.

Zap2000
Zap2000

Please don't try to say the event was unprovoked. The facts where established. And you are trying to pass your stupid bill by changing the narrative.

TCSO7801
TCSO7801

100% correct!

shooter
shooter

Boogers and Lowest will probably laud this.