Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

State News

February 24, 2012

Police disagree with 'dealy force' bill

(Continued)

BATESVILLE —

That decision provoked a public protest, and a flurry of calls and emails to legislators from people who saw the ruling as an assault on the constitution's Fourth Amendment protection against illegal search and seizure.

Legislators have been wrangling over how to respond. The Senate passed a bill that spelled out circumstances in which police officers can enter a home without the resident having the right to resist.

The House version of the bill alters some of that language, while still giving residents limited rights to resist police officers with "reasonable force." It also says a person is justified in using deadly force if that person believes a law enforcement officer is acting unlawfully.

It's that phrase, "if the person reasonably believes the force is necessary" that alarms bill opponents.

"That makes everybody a lawyer," said Terre Haute Police Chief John Plasse. "It's going to cause more altercations with police. We hear it from people all the time, who say, 'You don't have a warrant you can't be here.' Saying they have a right to use deadly force to resist isn't the way to handle this."

Plasse's department is particularly sensitive to the issue: one of his officers, Brent Long, was shot and killed last July when delivering an arrest warrant.

Backers of the bill insist that opponents have it wrong. Sen. Mike Young, a Republican from Indianapolis, and Rep. Jud McMillin, a Republican from Dearborn, both told House committee members that the bill was designed to protect police by spelling out when people could exercise their right to resist law enforcement.

After hearing nearly two hours of testimony against the bill, McMillin agreed to try to rework the bill's language so that it would less objectionable to its critics. McMillin said he'll try to amend the bill when it goes to the full House for a vote.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com 

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