“[It’s] an excuse [for homeowners] to actually use force when they may know in the back of their mind they could possibly get away with it. That's horrible,” he said.
South Bend FOP Lodge No. 36 President Steve Noonan agrees.
“The biggest thing is just to understand nothing has changed as far as when a police officer can enter a house, so citizens don’t think police officers never have a right to enter a house,” Noonan said. “They do under a warrant, they do under exigent (emergency) circumstances.”
The controversial “Right to Resist” law stems from public uproar that began with a 2007 domestic violence call in Southern Indiana when a man shoved officers as they entered his apartment. In that situation, police were acting legally. They arrested him. Last year, Indiana’s Supreme Court decided that allowing people to resist arrest in their homes “…unnecessarily escalates the level of violence…” That ruling sparked outrage from people who felt it violated the U.S. Constitution and Indiana’s “Castle Law.”
Noonan says he wrote 76 lawmakers and the Governor urging them not to pass legislation in favor of homeowners who believe force is necessary to protect themselves from illegal actions by an officer.
But Governor Daniels signed Senate Enrolled Act No. 1 into law last month.
Noonan and other officers worry the new law makes their jobs more dangerous. In 2003, Noonan was shot in the leg while responding to a domestic violence call near Twyckenham and Ewing.
Ironically, Nick Polizzotto won an award for helping Noonan to safety that night.
The “Right to Resist" law only protects homeowners in certain situations. When the Governor signed it, he said the right thing for citizens to do is cooperate with police in every way possible. This law is not an invitation to use violence or force against officers, he added.
One large national organization that supports the “Right to Resist” law is the National Rifle Association – a group that typically backs police. A statement on the NRA's website says the legislation is "crucial" to "protect Hoosiers' civil liberties.”
St. Joseph County Prosecutor Mike Dvorak said he’s concerned the law may invite more violence in cases where police officers are not doing anything against the law, but citizens are breaking the law. Dvorak said he specifically wonders whether this law will change the way officers respond to domestic violence situations.