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Making It Harder To Protect And Serve

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Posted: Friday, August 30, 2019 12:12 pm

As part of Gov. Gavin Newsome’s campaign to turn the Golden State into the liberal capitol of America, he has signed into law a new measure which further restricts the ability of police to protect the public and themselves. The law, AB 392, which takes effect on Jan. 1, will prohibit law enforcement officers from using deadly force except when necessary to save their lives or the lives of others and only when they are in imminent danger and no other non-lethal alternative exists to de-escalate the situation.

So, in the seconds a police officer might have to make a life-or-death decision when confronted by a violent person, an officer must now spend critical seconds trying to determine if non-lethal alternatives exist that may or may not “de-escalate” a dangerous situation while his and other innocent lives hang in the balance. California can now boast of having the nation’s highest (and dumbest) restrictions on the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers. I doubt that you feel any safer because of this law, unless, of course, you intend to violently confront a police officer.

The previous standard which this law will replace allowed the use of deadly force when an officer had a “reasonable” fear of imminent harm. “Reasonable” is an important adjective here. We’re talking about a dangerous situation where a rapid response may be necessary to save lives and there isn’t much time for analysis. The new law is not “reasonable” because it puts an officer and perhaps those he is trying to protect at greater risk and implies that their lives are less valuable than that of a violent assailant.

Said Newsome as he signed the bill, “We are doing something today that stretches the boundaries of possibility and sends a message to people all across the country that they can do more and they can do better to meet this moment…” I’m not sure what all that blather means, but I suppose liberal politicians could do more harm, if they tried hard enough, perhaps by disarming police altogether and requiring them to enforce the law and protect lives purely by persuasion or maybe water pistols.

Assemblyperson Shirley Weber, who authored the bill, said that “this is the first step toward changing how policing is conducted in California.” It will change, all right. It will add to the cost of training and retraining police officers and make it more difficult to recruit enough qualified young men and women willing to put their lives on the line while working under such constraints where their every move is second-guessed by clueless civilians and activists. And if this is merely the first step, one shudders to think what the next might be. Some law enforcement agencies are already experiencing recruitment problems. This law won’t help.

Just as laws restricting police use of force are increasing, respect for police authority continues to decline. In some communities, they are regarded not as protectors but as threats. Any police shooting of an “unarmed” person of color, for example, invariably seems to provoke outrage even before all the circumstances are known and regardless of whether or not the officers involved are cleared by investigators. They are commonly demonized and referred to as pigs. One wonders why any young man or woman with other career options would choose a law enforcement career under these conditions, especially in crime-infested, Democrat-governed cities where claims of police brutality become the first response to almost every incident of the use of force by law enforcement.

Meanwhile, in the wake of mass shootings by violent young men, there is widespread sentiment among liberals and the media to legislate stricter gun control measures. Most people, however, now realize, or should, that the police cannot be expected to protect them from violent criminals and, in most cases, can only respond after the fact. Continuing efforts by liberal politicians, who have failed utterly to protect their own citizens in the municipalities they govern, to hamstring law enforcement officers, will only increase public resistance to gun control measures. People know full well that municipalities that have the strictest gun control measures also have the highest murder rates and that violent criminals will continue to ignore gun control laws just as they always have.

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