Yesterday, the House committee reviewing the Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Act passed a number of amendments to the bill. The following is a summary of the amendments that most directly affect law enforcement officers but are not all the changes. For a summary of how the bill has progressed, please see our previous posts. We will continue to update as this bill progresses, and anything in this bill is subject to change until the final version passes and signed into law.
If an officer is convicted of a crime for the act for which a civil action is brought against the officer, then the employer does not need to indemnify the officer. What this means is that if the officer is convicted of a crime involving an unjustified use-of-force, and the person who the officer used the force against brings a civil lawsuit, the employer can decide not to pay any of the judgment against the officer. The officer would be on the hook for the entire judgment amount.
USE OF DEADLY FORCE
This amendment adds a justification for the use of deadly force that is worded similar to the Constitutional standard as outlined by the US Supreme Court. That justification states “a peace officer is justified in using deadly force if the peace officer has an objectively reasonable belief that a lesser degree of force is inadequate and the peace officer has objectively reasonable ground to believe, and does believe, that he or another person is in imminent danger of being killed or receiving serious bodily injury.” This language is similar to the Constitutional standard in Graham v. Connor wherein the officer’s use of deadly force must be objectively reasonable, but also has a subjective (from the officer’s perspective) standard as well.
This amendment would make the new use-of-force justifications in this bill become effective September 1, 2020, and orders agencies to train peace officers prior to that date on these provisions.
USE OF FORCE IN JAILS/PRISONS
The amendment adds the term “objective” to the reasonableness of the force used by detention officers.
REPORTING USES OF FORCE
This amendment would require the officer to report whether a weapon was unholstered or discharged during every citizen contact. This is in addition to the all the other demographic and other information that must be reported in every citizen contact.
BODY WORN CAMERAS
When interacting with a victim or witness, officers must notify victims or witnesses about the body camera and provide them with notice that they have the right to ask to turn the camera off at any point during the interaction. Consent must be obtained to continue recording the interaction with victims or witnesses. Officers must make efforts not to capture health information on the body cameras.
This amendment adds carotid holds to the definition of a chokehold. This would effectively outlaw any and all holds that peace officers may apply to the neck.