Police groups are pushing back against what they say is unfair scrutiny of fatal police shootings of black men this month in Charlotte, Tulsa, and El Cajon, Ca., that have brought outrage and condemnation from community leaders and some politicians, the Wall Street Journal reports. Prosecutions of police are rare, yet more officers and police unions are signing up for insurance that covers legal costs, because they say they fear being charged criminally in shootings. Some are calling for new laws and policies they say would offer them more protection.
Many officers point to the unsuccessful prosecution of six police officers over last year’s death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore as an example of a type of the rush to judgment they fear. Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., Police Chief Kerr Putney said police expect scrutiny, but also expect to be allowed the discretion to do their jobs. “The fear of unrest leads to prosecution where it may not be warranted,” said Steve James of the Fraternal Order of Police Legal Defense Plan. James said the plan has enrolled 3,500 new members this year and is now approaching 55,000 members. Some police groups are renewing their push for a Law Enforcement Bill of Rights, and touting a “Blue Lives Matter” law in effect in Louisiana and proposed in a dozen other states that make attacks on police hate crimes.