LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — With Los Angeles city dignitaries looking on in approval, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck handed out awards to officers who didn’t shoot or kill people during potentially dangerous situations Thursday.
The LAPD’s new “Preservation of Life” Award is given to officers who didn’t use deadly force, even when their lives were threatened. The new award is considered on par with the Medal of Valor in prestige. The awards were presented along with other medals during Thursday’s annual Above and Beyond Ceremony, held at the Bonaventure Hotel downtown.
Twenty-five officers received the award.
“I believed at the time using a lot of tactical language worked,” said one officer who received the Preservation of Life Award. She admitted she came very close to using her weapon when a man pointed a rifle at her.
“They’re able to tactically work through a situation in a way they don’t have to shoot,” said Beck, “and we should recognize that, too.”
Beck announced plans for the award late last year. In a November blog post, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents most officers, called the Preservation of Life Award “a terrible idea that will put officers in even more danger.”
“Incentivizing officers for ‘preservation of life’ suggests somehow that this is not what they train hard to do,” the post said. “It suggests that officers must go above and beyond their normal activities to avoid harm, or put another way, that officers will be penalized for resorting to an appropriate, lawful use of force. That is ludicrous. The last thing an LAPD officer wants to do is to harm, or worse yet, take the life of a suspect.”