Police departments in Seattle have revised their policies on when police can use force. The changes come as part of a settlement with the Justice Department over findings that officers used frequent excessive, unconstitutional force on suspects.
But roughly 125 police officers have filed a lawsuit challenging the new rules.
In their view, the new policies infringe on their rights to use as much force as they deem necessary in self-protection. They represent about ten percent of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild membership. The police union itself declined to endorse the lawsuit.
This week, a federal judge summarily rejected all of their claims, finding that they were without constitutional merit, and that she would have been surprised if such allegations of excessive force by officers did not lead to stricter standards.
The officers claimed the policies infringed on their rights under their Second Amendment and under the Fourth, claiming a self-defense right to use force. Chief U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman pointed out that the Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms — not the right to use them — and that the officers “grossly misconstrued” the Fourth Amendment when they claimed that it protects them, and not individuals who would be the subjects of police force or seizures.
The lawsuit brought forth by officers sheds light on the resistance officials and police chiefs face as they seek to implement more humane policies.
The lawsuit opposes the idea of treating vulnerable suspects such as those who suffer from mental illness differently, and calls the DOJ’s findings on excessive force “highly suspect.”
It also embodies stand your ground elements, asserting that officers have a right not to de-escalate the situation before turning to deadly force.
Wow. It seems like this type of thinking is the reason why tensions between police and citizens remains high.
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