FLEOA Denounces the Clay-Khanna Legislation

FLEOA Denounces the Clay-Khanna Legislation on Federal Use of Force Guidelines

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  September 18, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – Larry Cosme, National President of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), the nation’s largest non-partisan, not-for-profit professional association representing more than 27,000 federal law enforcement officers and agents across 65 federal agencies, today issued the following statement in strong opposition to the PEACE Act (H.R. 4359) introduced by Reps. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.).

"The legislation introduced by Representatives Lacy Clay and Ro Khanna is an insult to law enforcement that will inhibit their ability to maintain the peace rather than protect it, as the name suggests. The PEACE Act itself, as well as the rhetoric surrounding its introduction, imply that federal law enforcement use deadly force as a first resort. This is outrageous considering that in 2017 an estimated 1,247,321 violent crimes were reported, 987 of these cases involved lethal use of force by police. Of these, 99.5 percent of individuals were armed. Law enforcement officers use force when necessary to protect the public and themselves and discouraging them from doing so is dangerous,” Cosme said.

"Furthermore, the proposed legislation seems ignorant of the reality of the situation in which force is necessary. Situations escalate in seconds and law enforcement are often called to the scene of already volatile situations. Under this legislation, law enforcement must take the time to conclude the age, language, physical and mental condition of an active threat before even issuing conditional warnings to the individual,” Cosme explained.

”This legislation also neglects established precedent and policy on use of force which officers and agents dutifully follow in nearly every situation. Graham v. Connor, a unanimous Supreme Court decision, held that an objective reasonableness standard should be applied when determining the proper level of force. Additionally, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s official policy regarding use of force already requires agents only use deadly force when necessary to protect against the imminent threat of death of serious bodily injury. All agencies have similar policies tailored to their mission. For example, the U.S. Marshals Service has three-pages of policy regarding use of force for escaped prisoners. The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center also teaches de- escalation techniques at all basic classes with hours of training on the legal ramifications of use of force,” Cosme said. "Protections for the public are already in place. In the moment of life or death, law enforcement does not need additional parameters for action, they need to trust their intuition and years of training.”

Cosme further stated, "Congressmen Clay and Khanna used the anniversary of the Michael Brown’s death to score political points by antagonizing federal law enforcement, but this legislation will not make a single American’s life safer. In fact, if these conditions were used in the Dayton, Ohio or other mass shootings these incidents may have been exacerbated by a delayed law enforcement response due to parameters outlined in this politically motivated legislation.”

"Law enforcement knows how to respond to danger, Members of Congress would do better by ensuring our brave front line defenders have all the funding, tools and resources necessary to keep America safe,” Cosme concluded.