There is currently legislation that is proceeding through the chambers of our elected officials in Baton Rouge that pertains to a police officer's ability to keep you at a safe distance while they are in the process of doing their jobs. The "Stay Back" bill as it has been nicknamed passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday and is now headed for debate on the floor of the full Senate.

Police LIghts
Photo courtesy of unsplash via Michael Fortsch

The legislation, which has already been approved by the Louisiana House, is actually straightforward in what it hopes to accomplish. The bill would give any commissioned peace officer in Louisiana the right and ability to demand that the public stay back by at least 25 feet when ordered to do so by the officer.

That doesn't mean you and or I couldn't approach an officer on the street, shake their hand and tell them "Thank you for your service". This rule only applies when the officer orders extra space around them so they can perform their jobs. At first blush, most of us can see the tactical advantage of giving our peace officers more room to do their job. But the Louisiana "Stay Back" legislation could run into an interesting obstacle, should it become law.

There are those who would argue that the "25-foot" perimeter is constitutionally vague. Think about it, how far is 25 feet? Can you accurately predict that distance right now? Now, try to predict that distance if you're a peace officer in the heat of making an arrest.

If even someone as unlearned in the law as I am can figure out this will be an issue down the road then it must be an issue. I am guessing those who support this legislation are going to have to build in some kind of "alternate measurement" that could be more widely accepted and understood.

That would be a great thing because I think we all want our law enforcement agencies to have the room they need to arrest the bad guys. But we also don't want to be included in a situation because we aren't good at estimating how far 25 feet is either.

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