Controversial Proposed Guidelines Aim to Shift Police Policies
The Police Executive Research Forum issued 30 new recommendations for police
By Wendy Fry
“PERF also says the 21-foot rule should be abandoned. That rule says a suspect wielding a knife is in lethal distance of a police officer at 21 feet, meaning the suspect could kill the officer, unless he or she is stopped. Therefore, firing on individuals within that space is justifiable. PERF’s new guideline says there are other factors to consider– for example, if there is a police car as a buffer between the individual and the officer.”
Also, PERF head makes key point that the oft-cited Supreme Court ruling about judging officer-involved shootings: “The most controversial of the recommended policies is to raise the standard that was set by a 1989 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision. The decision says officers’ actions should be judged from their eyes. Simpler: No Monday morning quarterbacking.
“Like in the example of Nehad, it doesn’t matter that Nehad did not have a knife when he was shot, according to the current standard. What matters is the officer was reasonable in believing he had a knife because he had heard many times before arriving on the scene Nehad was threatening people with a knife.
“'(The ruling) recognizes that officers have to make split-second decisions, so it really goes to the criminal aspect of the law, but it doesn’t really talk about what officers should do,’ said Wexler. ‘It talks about what officers can do, but not about what they should do.’”