INDIANAPOLIS – Under a new state law, you could be placed under arrest if you’re standing less than 25 feet away from a police investigation.
House Enrolled Act 1186 gives police a 25-foot buffer to perform any of their duties. If a member of the public is asked to provide that distance and doesn’t comply, they can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
Indiana is among the first states to pass such a law, according to State Rep. Wendy McNamara (R-Evansville), who introduced the legislation.
“The encounters, as we’ve seen, have increasingly [been] getting more and more violent with people who aren’t necessarily involved in the situation at all,” McNamara said.
“It was a very good thing for not just the safety of law enforcement officers, but for the safety of our citizens,” said Chief Kyle Prewitt of the Plainfield Police Department, who supports the measure.
Law enforcement officials say the law won’t apply to all situations as officers will use discretion.
“Most of the time, people are very attentive to what the police are doing, and they want to be helpful and they stand back,” said Johnson County Prosecutor Lance Hamner. “There are some times when people just won’t be cooperative, or they do want to interfere.”
But the law has drawn criticism from Democrats and other groups.
“While it does have a noble purpose, [it] could be manipulated significantly by law enforcement,” said Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis).
The legislation is under review by attorneys at the ACLU of Indiana, which argues it hampers the public’s ability to hold police accountable, said Katie Blair, the group’s advocacy and public policy director.
“We’ve seen several murders at the hands of police that have been captured by citizens observing or recording those actions,” Blair said.
Members of law enforcement deny that the law limits transparency.
“I can capture video from more than 25 feet away, and I’ll oftentimes capture the audio that’s associated with that,” Chief Prewitt said.
The law takes effect July 1.