You’ve been probably seen it happen in lots of movies and TV shows. A cop is chasing a dangerous suspect, and fires a warning shot to make him stop. In reality, that’s not really a thing anymore. For decades law enforcement agencies in America have been instructing their officers to never fire a warning shot.
That policy may be about to change however. In January, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), in conjunction with 10 other law enforcement groups, released a document that aimed to update the current rules surrounding the use of force. To the surprise of many in the law enforcement community, the document says that police should once again be allowed to fire warning shots under specific circumstances. Though the IACP doesn’t have the authority to force police departments to adopt their policies, the organization does have a lot of clout and influence in law enforcement.
There’s a good reason why this practice has been banned by most police departments for so many years. When a shot is fired in the air, there’s no telling where it’s going to land. A shot fired in the ground can also send the bullet into an unpredictable trajectory. Obviously, firing a warning shot can easily injury innocent bystanders.
In regards to the policy change, NPR interviewed Massad Ayoob, who has been a police officer for decades and a world renown firearms instructor. He was highly critical of the policy. “A few decades ago I followed a case in New England where the guy raised his gun, fired what he thought was into the air, and the bullet struck and killed someone on the top floor porch of a nearby tenement building.”
He also stated that warning shots probably aren’t as effective as most people believe. In fact, warning shots can strike fear in fleeing suspects, and convince them that they need to run even harder. “Movies show people firing a shot in the air and the running man stops. And that just ain’t how it happens in real life.”
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Contributed by Daniel Lang of The Daily Sheeple.
Daniel Lang is a researcher and staff writer for The Daily Sheeple – Wake The Flock Up!