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Committee Recommends Law Against Illegal Police Entry

A legislative committee says an earlier court ruling had some people worried that police were immune to a law against illegal entry into one's home.

Police near homes

Photo: Andy Callahan (Flickr)

The committee tried to work out a balance between protecting citizens' right to privacy and keeping law enforcement officers safe.

A legislative committee studying the right to protect one’s home from illegal police entry officially recommended Thursday that the General Assembly make it a part of Indiana law in the upcoming session.

The committee took up the issue after problems arose regarding an Indiana Supreme Court decision. Some said they worried that the Barnes v. State of Indiana decision said the Castle doctrine, which guarantees protection from illegal trespassing in one’s home, did not apply to police, thereby negating the right of people to defend their homes from illegal entry by law enforcement.

Bedford Senator Brent Steele says the committee is recommending legislation aimed at quelling that concern.

“Yes, the Castle doctrine does apply under certain circumstances and that we gave a safe harbor to the police and said that it doesn’t apply in these situations,” he says.

Steele says the exceptions include domestic violence investigations, chasing a fugitive and situations in which an officer believes a person inside the home is in danger. Hammond Representative Linda Lawson, a former police officer, says she is much more comfortable with the legislation now than she was when the committee began.

“I wanted to make sure that people just couldn’t randomly start shooting officers on the front porch for no reason at all just because they didn’t like the uniform or were angry about something,” she says.

All the committee members say the bill is still a work in progress, with recommendations coming in from law enforcement, prosecutors and others.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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