New York Civil Rights And Criminal Defense Lawyers

What are the rules about officers drawing their firearms?

On Behalf of | Tuesday May 18, 2021 | Civil Rights, Police Misconduct

It seems there is a new story every week about law enforcement having run-ins with individuals and drawing their guns. These stories often result in a shooting death.

Some recent cases have brought about outrage due to the senseless nature of the situation. It also has led to people wondering what the rules are about officers drawing their guns and using them as deadly force. You may wonder about the specific rules for officers in New York.

No rules

According to the New York Times, there are no rules regarding when an officer can draw his or her gun on a suspect. The general rule of thumb is that officers can draw their guns using their own discretion. Essentially, it is up to each officer as to when to unholster their firearm and in what situations they would do so. It can be different for every person.

The reasoning

The main thought is to not restrict officers from protecting themselves when they feel threatened or are in a situation where they cannot be sure what will occur or if they are safe. As an officer, you may never be clear on the actual danger in a situation. You have to become good at reading signals to know when you may need your firearm.

The issues

The problem with officers having complete control over drawing their guns is that it can lead to bad situations. An offender could disarm the officer and use the gun against him or her. An officer could draw and use a gun in a situation when there is no danger present or discharge it by accident. Officers have to rely heavily on their instincts, which are not always right.

There is plenty of potential for accidents and misjudgments when an officer draws his or her firearm, but those in charge still side with allowing the officer to have the decision-making power of when to draw.