Police union leaders in Los Angeles on Thursday sharply criticized Chief Charlie Beck’s new “Preservation of Life” award as a “terrible idea” that could “endanger the lives” of officers.
The new award prioritizes the lives of suspected criminals over the lives of officers, said a statement from the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents rank and file LAPD officers. It said cops already hold their fire when possible, and creating an award that encourages them to hold their fire more often will result in criminals getting the jump on cops.
Officers already feel "increasingly threatened" in an anti-police environment, the statement said, and the award will lead to police officers getting killed.
On Tuesday, Chief Beck announced the award as a way to recognize when officers refrain from using deadly force when they legally could.
The chief says he was inspired in part by an incident in which officers wrestled a shotgun from a man instead of shooting him. Beck’s new award also comes amid a national debate about police shootings and calls for police to be trained more extensively on how to de-escalate situations.
A KPCC investigative series launched this week found about one quarter of all police shootings in L.A. County over a five-year period involved unarmed suspects.