Improving Regulation of Police Use of Lethal Force

The President of the United States must currently overcome greater obstacles before the military can use lethal force against a U.S. citizen overseas than a local police agency faces before using lethal force domestically. At least that is the claim Daniel Loehr of New York University School of Law makes in a forthcoming paper. Loehr argues that the imbalance should shift in the other direction, with greater constraints placed on local police agencies’ use of deadly force than on the executive branch’s. Authorizing statutes meaningfully limit the President’s use of lethal force by clearly articulating the circumstances under which lethal force is permitted, contends Loehr. For example, federal law “authorizes the President to use all necessary and appropriate force,” but only against nations, organizations, and persons involved in the September 11 attacks, and only “to prevent future international terrorism.” But these limiting statutes…

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