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Lawmakers Examine Entry Resistance, Police Conduct Laws

Dozens of legislators expressed outrage when the Indiana Supreme Court ruled homeowners’ proper recourse was a lawsuit if police barge in without a warrant. Several rushed to draft bills specifying a right to resist.

The study panel is expected to vote next week on a proposal making clear that police can enter a residence without a warrant in cases of domestic violence or other situations in which there is a threat of immediate harm; in “hot pursuit” of a suspect; or if officers are invited to enter, without objection. Senator Mike Young, R-Indianapolis, drafted that proposal.

“The person who’s being battered oftentimes will not say anything while the batterer’s there, because they’re fearful,” Young says. “What if the police officer says, ‘Okay, I‘m going to let it go,’ and they’ve said something against that person? Their life may be now in danger, and they refuse to say anything.”

A final draft from a study committee is expected to instead spell out specific circumstances in which police have a right to enter. The draft is also expected to incorporate a proposal legally defining conduct unbecoming an officer. That idea was from Senator Tim Lanane, D-Anderson.

“He [an officer] looks in the window, sees a group of people cutting up cocaine or something, and realizes, ‘By the time I go get a warrant, come back, they’ll be gone.’ Because that is the commission of a crime at that point in time, he would be allowed to enter,” Lanane says.

Hammond Rep. Linda Lawson, a former police officer, says the recommendations are vastly improved over early proposals she says would have essentially declared “open season” on police.

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