Daniels signs police entry law

Critics worry measure could put police in danger.

March 21, 2012

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Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed one last bill to bring this year’s General Assembly to a close.

That bill, Senate Enrolled Act 1, lays out in greater detail when a homeowner can refuse entry to a police officer.

The law comes as a result of last summer’s ruling by the Indiana Supreme Court that concluded Hoosier homeowners cannot refuse entry into their homes by police, even if the officers arrive without a warrant.

“After close inspection, I have decided to sign Senate Enrolled Act 1. Contrary to some impressions, the bill strengthens the protection of Indiana law enforcement officers by narrowing the situations in which someone would be justified in using force against the,” Daniels wrote in a prepared statement. “Senate Enrolled Act 1 puts into place a two-part test before a person can use deadly force against a law enforcement officer:  First, it clarifies and restates the current requirement that a person reasonably believe the law enforcement officer is acting unlawfully. Second, it adds that the force must be reasonably necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to the citizen. This second requirement is not part of the current law.”

The law comes four years after an Evansville, Indiana man sued police after being arrested following a domestic disturbance.

The court’s ruling caused an uproar, prompting protests and marches outside the Indiana State Capitol. Critics saw it as an affront to a person’s right against unwarranted search and seizure.

After much debate, Hoosier lawmakers passed Senate Enrolled Act 1 on the last day of the session earlier this month. Daniels signed the bill into law Wednesday. He says it narrows the conditions under which someone could use force against police.

Critics worry the law could give people justification for attacking police officers. Daniels refutes that.

“Law enforcement officers will be better protected than before, not less so.  What is troubling to law enforcement officers, and to me, is the chance that citizens hearing reports of change will misunderstand what the law says,” Daniels stated. “The right thing to do is cooperate with them in every way possible. This law is not an invitation to use violence or force against law enforcement officers. In fact, it restricts when an individual can use force, specifically deadly force, on an officer, so don’t try anything.  Chances are overwhelming you will be breaking the law and wind up in far worse trouble as a result.”

The law goes into effect on July 1st.