Police Dispute Amnesty Charge That They Lack Lethal Force Standards


Amnesty International charges that no U.S. state meets international standards for the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers, reports USA Today. Amnesty said in a report that 13 states have laws that don’t comply with U.S. constitutional standards and that all states lack specific accountability mechanisms for officer-involved killings, and it added that none have statutes which require officers to use deadly force only as a last resort to protect officers or others against imminent threat of death or serious injury. Police advocates dispute that conclusion, arguing that most departments have policies that meet accepted standards.

Steven Hawkins of Amnesty International USA said, “Deadly force must be reserved as a method of absolute last resort. The fact that absolutely no state laws conform to this standard is deeply disturbing and raises serious human rights concerns.” Law enforcement experts said the report fails to mention that virtually all police departments have policies that allow deadly force only as a last resort. They add that a lack of state statutes does not mean that officers aren’t held to high standards, and that in fact officer involved-killings are thoroughly and objectively investigated. Many of the recommendations made in Amnesty’s new report are old ideas that police unions have been working on and have supported for years, says James Pasco of the National Fraternal Order of Police.

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