Pharos-Tribune

Columns

March 24, 2012

Bill might send bad message

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels says he thought carefully before signing a bill that lays out when individuals would be legally justified in using force against police officers.

He said he shared the concern of law enforcement organizations that the new law might be misinterpreted, but he said he signed it because he believed the measure actually tightened the restrictions on a citizen using force in a confrontation with the police.

I hope he’s right.

The bill won huge support in the Indiana House and Senate.

Lawmakers had been flooded with angry calls and emails after the Indiana Supreme Court issued a ruling saying that Hoosiers did not have the right to resist a police officer entering their homes illegally.

Critics conjured up images of Nazi storm troopers knocking down doors, and they complained that the decision would take away rights that had been part of common law for hundreds of years.

Some of the more vocal critics suggested that they certainly would resist if the cops came crashing through the front door, court decision or no court decision.

Police organizations, of course, supported the court’s ruling. They saw it as a common sense decision that would save lives.

I agree.

The time to be debating whether police officers have a right to come into your house is not in the heat of the moment. Telling anyone that it might be OK from time to time to point a gun at a police officer seems to me to be inviting tragedy.

My advice to anyone who sees police officers crashing through the front door is to do whatever they tell you to do. If they say, “Put up your hands,” do it. If they order you to drop to the floor, do that, too.

The time to argue is when you have a lawyer standing next to you in a court of law. Let the lawyers debate about the technicalities of the law. Let a judge decide whether the police were really acting within their authority.

Very little good can come from fighting back when an officer tells you to stop resisting and put your hands behind your back. About the best thing you can hope for when you tell a cop to get out of your house is a bloody nose.

I’m not saying police officers are always right. They’re fallible like any other human being.

There have even been cases where the police crashed through the wrong door and rousted an innocent homeowner who simply had the misfortune of living next door to a drug dealer.

Mistakes happen.

My hope is that no criminal suspect will take the new law as an invitation to challenge the police department’s authority to do its job.

Too many police officers are already killed or injured in the line of duty.

With luck, the governor’s fears and mine will prove unfounded.

We can all hope that folks will interpret the law in the same way the governor does and conclude that there are very few instances when it would be a good idea to escalate a confrontation with police.

Had I been the governor, I would have vetoed this measure.

The message Indiana should be sending to its residents is that the Supreme Court was right. There is no time when it’s appropriate to resist a police officer coming into your home.

This is not Nazi Germany. Police do not have the right to run roughshod over this nation’s citizens.

We have rights guaranteed us by the Constitution, and the best way to defend those rights is in a court of law.

• Kelly Hawes is managing editor of the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5155 or kelly.hawes@pharostribune.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • WOLFSIE: High-tech got you down? I love where I bank. It's a branch inside of a big supermarket. I can make a modest withdrawal and then go and blow every last penny in the cookie aisle. The tellers at the window appreciate me. They know about my obsession with round numbers and und

    April 18, 2014

  • PETERS: Grizzly bear may help human medicine I've gained 5 pounds since last summer. My body mass index (BMI) is still fine, but I need to stop gaining to keep it that way. Grizzly bears put my weight gain to shame. In the late summer, they eat some 50,000 calories per day and gain more than 1

    April 18, 2014

  • WILLIAMS: Feelings of the flowers I took one of those fun tests on Facebook to see what kind of flower I am and lo and behold, it said I was an orchid! That is so wrong because I have always thought I was the exact opposite of an orchid. I'd characterize myself as a daisy. You know,

    April 17, 2014

  • HAMILTON: Government as innovator? You bet! Five years ago, the federal government spent $169 billion to fund basic research and development. This fiscal year, it's down to $134 billion. People who believe in public belt-tightening applaud drops like that. I understand why: there are many reas

    April 17, 2014

  • PARKER: It's time to take a joke, America In selecting Stephen Colbert to replace David Letterman as host of the "Late Show," CBS has waged war on America's Heartland -- or so proclaims that Palm Beach font of heartland mirth, Rush Limbaugh. Don't you believe it, Heartlanders. But wait, ther

    April 16, 2014

  • KITCHELL: Forum about adding answers, subtracting questions A week from tonight, Logansport residents and those outside Logansport who purchase electricity from the Logansport Municipal Utilities will have a chance to find out some things for themselves. A free forum at McHale Performing Arts Center will feat

    April 16, 2014

  • MARCUS: Truth is often unwelcome Jim Feelwright greeted me warmly as I entered the room: “Well, here he is, Mr. Negative.” Since it was a friendly meeting, I borrowed a famous line from the movies: “You can’t handle the truth.” “You,” he said, “just don’t want to see what’s really h

    April 15, 2014

  • VILLAGE IDIOT: Signs of spring finally upon us Today I saw my first crocus popping up after the long winter. It was in a picture a friend posted on Facebook. Suddenly, it seemed everyone was posting pictures of buds on trees, robins on the lawn, green shoots coming up in the garden. It was almost

    April 15, 2014

  • Brian Bosma BOSMA: House Republicans achieve legislative priorities When the General Assembly began its work last November, as Speaker I pledged a session driven by five main issues: increased road funding, enhanced job training, early childhood education, fair business taxation and cutting government red tape. With

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • LYONS: Taking pity on the Plutocrats "Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that belie

    April 14, 2014

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should mushroom hunters be allowed to forage off-trail in Indiana state parks?

Yes
No
Undecided
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.