by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden said Monday police should be trained to shoot at the legs of assailants, which police training experts decry as impractical and dangerous.
“We also have to fundamentally change the way police are trained,” he said. “The idea that instead of standing there and teaching a cop when there’s an unarmed person that’s coming at them with a knife so they shoot him in the leg instead of in the heart, is a very different thing. There’s a lot of different things that can change.”
Biden addressed parishioners and local leaders at a black church in Wilmington, Delaware, as riots tore across the country following the nonshooting death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. He also said, if elected, he would try to form a police oversight committee in the first 100 days of his presidency. The comments come as Biden attempts to separate himself from President Trump on how he would respond to the rioting and deal with tensions between police and the communities they serve.
Jason Johnson, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, said he agreed with Biden that police should continually update their training but said the specific idea of training officers to shoot at people’s legs is a bad one. He said shooting a gun at somebody is and should always be considered use of deadly force in the law enforcement community, and the decision to use deadly force must be justified. …
“Shooting at a person is deadly force regardless of what part of their body you aim at. They’re trained to shoot center mass but there is no option to shoot somewhere else and have it not be considered deadly force,” he said.