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

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • WOLFSIE: Giving a word of advice So, what’s the word? Really, what is the word? With over 250,000 words in the English language, you’d think there would be a word for just about everything. Not so. Therefore, I am on a crusade to find a term for some everyday occurrences for which t

    August 1, 2014

  • PETERS: Have a cup of joe to help your eyes? My day starts with coffee. I’m too cheap to buy it by the cup from baristas, so I just brew my own Folgers by the pot. I have a cup or two as I settle into work each morning, and another cup – sometimes two – in the early afternoon. That may not be w

    August 1, 2014

  • WILLIAMS: America still the dream Is America really in as bad as shape like many people say it is? I’m 67 and when I look around, I don’t see it.Everything isn’t great but believe it or not, there has never been a time when everything was great, not even in those innocent Fifties we

    July 31, 2014

  • WERNER: The mystery of the Indian grave at Dykeman Last summer I contacted Thelma Conrad, executive director of the Cass County Historical Society, to ask her if she had any information on the Indian grave at Dykeman Park. Thelma had heard of it but had never seen the small marker that tells of the I

    July 31, 2014

  • RAMPBELL: Keeping the sick at home Something strange happened here this week: Lots of workers who’ve never done so before got the right to call in sick. And that’s a good thing.The Big Apple, you see, is joining a handful of other trailblazing cities such as Washington, San Francisco

    July 30, 2014

  • KITCHELL: Patacsil was no ordinary Joe Somebody forgot to tell Joe Patacsil that if he wanted to wrestle at a Big Ten university with black and gold as its school colors ... well, most people who know anything about college wrestling today might have said he picked the wrong one -- Purdue

    July 30, 2014

  • MARCUS: The higher education funding mess Public higher education financing is unsustainable as currently configured. This conclusion was reached by two important groups over the past two years. The National Association of State Budget Officers and the State Higher Education Executive Office

    July 29, 2014

  • VILLAGE IDIOT: The state of the reunion “Katy! It’s been so long! How’ve you been?”My God, she’s gained so much weight I didn’t recognize her. It’s a good thing we’re all wearing nametags. I thought it was some distant cousin past due with triplets.“Bob! Long time, no see.”No hair, either.

    July 29, 2014

  • COATS: What to do next with Putin, Ukraine The tragic death of 298 people on board Malaysian Airlines flight 17 in a wheat field in eastern Ukraine marks a moment when words of disapproval and expressions of grief are not enough. This is a moment when action must follow the outrage and rhetor

    July 28, 2014

  • LYONS: The most powerful men in the world? Search the phrase “the most powerful man in the world” and what comes up are photos of grotesquely over-developed weightlifters; also Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. Awfully ironic under present circumstances. It’s a cant term TV news anchors use to

    July 28, 2014

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

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

Should the U.S. impose a travel ban on three West African nations in response to a growing Ebola virus outbreak?

Not sure
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction

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.