Dear Mr. Mercer,
I appreciate your thoughts and input on Senate Enrolled Act 1. This was one of the closest and hardest calls I've ever made before signing a bill.
I neither proposed nor supported the legislation when it was offered in the General Assembly. I did study it very closely when it came to me. Based on what I'd heard, I was surprised to discover that this law increases rather than reduces the legal protection of law enforcement officers. The law enforcement associations with whom I communicated agree on this point. But, ironically, the law could have the reverse effect if its meaning is misreported or misunderstood.
I have been a consistent supporter of law enforcement throughout my tenure as governor, and have benefited from the strongest possible relationships with those who represent our police and other professionals. I understand and share their concerns about misperceptions. I will do all I can as long as I am in this job to make the real effects clear, and to continue supporting the brave people of Indiana law enforcement every way I can.
Attached is the statement that I issued at the time I signed the bill.
Thank you for your citizenship.
Now here is the "SEA 1 statement.doc" file that was attached.
March 21, 2012
Governor signs SEA 1; final 2012 Bill Watch update
Tuesday evening, Governor Daniels signed SEA 1, titled “Right to defend against unlawful entry.” He issued the following statement about his decision to sign the bill:
“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 them. 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.
“Moreover, unless a person is convinced an officer is acting unlawfully, he cannot use any force of any kind. In the real world, there will almost never be a situation in which these extremely narrow conditions are met.
“So as a matter of law, 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.
“Today is an important day to say: Indiana’s outstanding law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to protect all Hoosiers. 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.”
This was the final bill of the 2012 session requiring the governor’s action. Bill Watch has been updated at this link: http://www.in.gov/gov/billwatch.htm
Jake Oakman, 317/232-1800, firstname.lastname@example.org
Trevor Kight, 317/233-4721, email@example.com