INDIANAPOLIS — The Local Law Enforcement Protection Act (H.R. 5264) is a federal bill designed to protect qualified immunity for state and local police officers. The bill was re-introduced by Reps. Claudia Tenney (NY-24) and Andrew Garbarino (NY-2) in the U.S. House of Representatives on August 22, 2023. It is currently in the Subcommittee on Commodity Markets, Digital Assets, and Rural Development. The bill’s text can be found here.
The qualified immunity doctrine protects police officers from personal liability for civil damages, provided their actions don’t violate the law or subvert constitutional rights. If this bill is enacted, state and local governments with laws that weaken qualified immunity protections would be unable to apply for specific federal grants aimed at bolstering rural and urban communities.
Government units whose laws guarantee qualified immunity protections as described in Saucier v. Katz, would be eligible to apply. Saucier v. Katz is a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court case in which a petitioner filed suit against a military officer, alleging that the officer violated his Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force during a protest. The Court concluded in favor of Officer Saucier.
The U.S. is in the middle of a public safety crisis. At a time when crime has increased and criminal offenders frequently face little or no accountability, police departments are severely understaffed. Threats of eradicating qualified immunity is one of several factors — that include politically motivated prosecutions, weak support from elected officials, unchallenged false narratives, and officer burnout — which have contributed to this scenario. Aside from making the policing profession less desirable, it’s also fostered a landscape where officers might second-guess themselves.
This legislation provides police officers with the freedom to perform their duties in good faith, without the fear of facing personal liability. When allowed to administer their oath as prescribed by their training and the U.S. Constitution, police officers are better equipped to protect and serve.
“The Local Law Enforcement Protection Act is a bill that strengthens policing, and we urge Congress to pass it. It supports the men and women of law enforcement who serve with honor and integrity, and ultimately keeps our communities safer,” said Paula Fitzsimmons, Legislative Director, National Police Association.
About The National Police Association: The National Police Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit Educational/Advocacy organization. For additional information visit www.nationalpolice.org.
This article originally appeared at the National Police Association and was reprinted with permission.