Indiana Senate passes police use-of-force bill

Indiana senators advanced a measure Tuesday that would allow police to determine what use of force is reasonable in some cases. The bill is now headed to the House.

Senate Bill 311, authored by Republican Sen. Scott Baldwin, would ban local governments or merit boards from disciplining officers who lawfully defend themselves when they believe their own lives are at risk.

Under the measure, police officers would be allowed to determine “reasonable” uses of force in such situations. That means officers could disregard their department’s use of force policy and use techniques — including chokeholds, which are currently prohibited by Indianapolis police — that are not currently permitted. The bill also prohibits officers from firing warning shots.

“At the end of the day, officers have to act reasonably,” Baldwin said. “Piling on more and more guidelines creates more stress and decreases reaction time and causes offers to second guess themselves in their actions, leading to danger for themselves and others.”

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