Last week, Democrats re-introduced the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act of 2020, named after a man who died, as shocking as the video was, with a lethal amount of drugs in his system, a severe heart condition, had COVID and was fighting with police after committing a crime. This led to a summer of violence, destruction, looting, assault, and murder. Progressives used this carefully concocted lie to convince Americans that police must be defunded. However, the “defund the police” narrative has failed; that’s proved by what is happening in Minneapolis where violent crime has spiked.
So leave it to the left to try something new to weaken law enforcement by eliminating qualified immunity, or “defund the police 2.0.”
Homicides and violent crimes are rising at shocking rates in Milwaukee and many other large cities. More than ever, qualified immunity is imperative to allow police to do their jobs without fear of baseless legal actions that could ruin their reputations, careers and financial well-being.
Removing qualified immunity will expose police officers to frivolous lawsuits, in which judges and juries could second-guess split-second decisions made by officers in good faith with a Monday morning quarterback perspective which will lead to significant financial exposure to the individual officers (or cities, if they give officer’s liability protection). It is unreasonable to expect officers to be legal scholars and think through legal arguments when attempting to take immediate action. We don’t ask this of other officials, including prosecutors and legislators, who are allowed to make discretionary decisions, even arguably wrong but good faith ones, without fear of constant lawsuits.
The U.S. Supreme Court has found: “Qualified immunity balances two important interests—the need to hold public officials accountable when they exercise power irresponsibly and the need to shield officials from harassment, distraction, and liability when they perform their duties reasonably.”
It’s the second part that liberals want to remove.
It must be emphasized: qualified immunity grants police officers performing discretionary functions immunity from civil suits unless the plaintiff shows that the officer violated “clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” It’s important to note that police do not have absolute immunity, which is enjoyed by elected officials, judges and district attorneys. More about that later.
In addition, qualified immunity doesn’t just apply to police officers. State governors, school teachers, prison officials – all government workers – are protected. But they only want to strip police officers of this protection, even though they have the toughest, most challenging jobs. They’re the ones who have to make the split-second critical decisions. In what other profession do people have to make immediate decisions that could severely alter the course of their lives? Legislators, judges, and others don’t have to make such immediate decisions. They get to sit around and think about it. But they get even stronger protection?
How can society truly weaken law enforcement? Do this!
Defund the police proponents presumably realized that only big urban departments will be defunded while surrounding suburbs still enjoying strong police departments (and less crime as a result). Eliminating qualified immunity is a way to systemically weaken, if not destroy, every police department in America.
It’s “defund the police 2.0.”
Worse, many people don’t understand what “qualified immunity” means, so they might buy the left’s false narrative that it will only “make it possible to hold bad cops accountable.”
No. It will open the floodgates for mercenary trial attorneys to go after average cops personally, including their homes and bank accounts. If you think they would only target the “truly bad” police officers (of which there are a few), you haven’t been paying attention. The people who think curfew tickets are “racist,” for example? Will they sue each officer personally? Even if exonerated, the punishment would be in the process and the costs and stress of fending off constant lawsuits.
Here’s what will happen
Police officers require qualified immunity to perform their jobs. Police officers perform vital tasks that require split-second decisions under stressful circumstances. The absence of qualified immunity will lead officers to be hesitant to act when action is imperative.
If you want to recruit qualified officers, forget it. Who in their right mind would open themselves up to such personal liability? Every officer capable of retiring will do so. You have to protect your family. This will subject the community to a less qualified, younger police force lacking the cumulative wisdom and training of veterans. Would this be retroactive? What if it is? What if every officer can be retroactively sued personally for every decision someone didn’t like? Can pensions be targeted?
Police should not be held personally liable for actions taken to keep the public safe. During the heightened period of violence in our country, the courts recognized the important role police play in fighting crime and keeping neighborhoods safe and gave them the protection they need to do so without fear and risk of baseless civil actions
Police officers must be allowed to make good-faith mistakes or have moments of bad judgment without worrying about being a defendant in a civil action. Otherwise, they will just freeze and take no action for fear that they and their family will be financially ruined if they make the wrong call in the eyes of a jury.
Just last month, attorney Kimberley Motley sent out a “Notice of Intent” to sue letters to city and county officials along with “numerous Wauwatosa, Waukesha, and West Allis police officers” for actions taken to enforce a curfew during protests and rioting in October. If not for qualified immunity, each of these officers would have to hire their own attorney and fight these allegations, costing them time, money, and added stress.
This Article Originally Appeared On Wisconsin Right Now.