The NY Post is reporting that New York City cops are “livid” over a new proposal that would encourage them to shoot to stop, not shoot to kill [via Gawker]. Joe Biden referred to it as “The John Wayne Law,” because it assume the cops can shoot guns out of criminals’ hands or something. But Biden is the last cowboy in Washington, so what do you expect?
Have you read the Post recently? No? Man, it’s really journalism at its finest.
The “minimum force” bill, which surfaced in the Assembly last week, seeks to amend the state penal codes’ “justification” clause that allows an officer the right to kill a thug if he feels his life or someone else’s is in imminent danger.
EF YEAH! Bang bang, pow pow pow!!! Take down those thugs, coppers. Impact reporting, care of Rupert Murdock. You wanna fight the Post? The Post ain’t afraid. The only problem is that they’re — spoiler alert! — a bit over the top. The change in the actual law seems far more banal than the furiously explosive Post write-up suggests. Here’s the current law:
Section of state Penal Law S 35.15(2)(a)(ii)
“A person may not use deadly physical force upon another person . . . unless: he or she is . . . a police officer or peace officer or a person assisting a police officer or a peace officer at the latter’s direction.”
And the proposal reads:
Section of Assembly Bill A02952
“A police officer or peace officer . . . uses such force with the intent to stop, rather than kill . . . and uses only the minimal amount of force necessary to effect such stop.”
These bureaucratic monsters must be stopped, soon, before they mandate using only the necessary amount of force ever again. The report goes on to quote cops who are apoplectic over being asked to use “force with the intent to stop, rather than kill.” Michael Paladino, president of the Detectives Endowment Association had these furious words to say:
“It’s moronic and would create two sets of rules in the streets if there is a gunfight. This legislation would require officers to literally shoot the gun out of someone’s hand or shoot to wound them in the leg or arm. I don’t know of any criminal who doesn’t shoot to kill. They are not bound by any restrictions.”
Paladino seems to be arguing that cops need to descend to the level of amoral murderers if they are to do their job properly. Which, um, seems like it’s setting the bar quite low.
And for what it’s worth, the NYCLU discovered through a Freedom of Information Law request that the NYPD doesn’t collect data about the racial and ethnic identities of the people it shoots at anymore, but they do collect data on what breeds of dogs they hit.
Starting in 1998, the NYPD stopped reporting in its Firearms Discharge Reports the race of people who were intended targets. At the same time, it started to report information about the specific breeds of dogs that officers were shooting at. That the Department is providing more information about the dogs it is shooting at than about people who are its intended targets is deeply disturbing and must be corrected.
That information — which dog breed is getting shot the most — strikes me as remarkably unhelpful. I have to imagine that you’re not seeing a lot of miniature terriers and corgis catching hot lead.
The movie companion piece to this post is a film called Revanche [h/t JR] about a cop who accidentally shoots and kills a bystander involved in a bank robbery. The guilt eats him alive as he tries to justify his actions to himself. If the new proposal cuts down on unnecessary deaths of suspects, that’s good both for suspects and the cops who don’t have to live with that guilt. The military is planning on creating a medal for not shooting civilians. Let’s give out some in NYC too.