Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Fear of Lawsuits Drives Cops to Risk Death

Notwithstanding anomalies like the 92 year-old woman shot to death by undercover officers yesterday, the eagerness of some groups to sue police for any use of force, no matter how justified, has created a deeprooted fear of being sued among officers.

From Insight:
U.S. law enforcement agencies are struggling with the threat of lawsuits regarding the conduct of officers.

Officials said the threat has become so acute that many officers would rather die than be sued. They said this has seriously hurt law enforcement and endangered the lives of officers.
It's not just rhetoric; the article includes several examples:
He presented videos of a plainclothes officer slashed by a knife-wielding suspect during a struggle. The officer gave his pistol to his colleague when trying to subdue the suspect. Mr. Chudwin said the officer, slashed in the face and neck, was afraid his gun would discharge during the struggle.
The public pays a heavy price to keep outfits like the ACLU in business, as well:
In another example, an officer responds to a call regarding a man seen in a supermarket with a gun. Mr. Chudwin said the officer refused to leave her patrol car even as the gunman forced a bystander to the ground. The bystander was then shot in the head and killed as the officer watched. In the end, backup police officers killed the gunman. Mr. Chudwin said colleagues of the unresponsive officer believed she "did nothing wrong."