Thursday, May 6, 2021

Opinion | Why reforming qualified immunity will never resolve police violence - The Washington Post

"As lawmakers in Congress negotiate their long-awaited police reform bill, Democrats are sticking firm to their conviction that the legislation must include some type of reform of qualified immunity — the legal protections that make suing individual police officers for misconduct nearly impossible. For many on the left, that raises an important question: To what extent should they be willing to compromise on reforming the law?

It’s the wrong question to ask. As a 40-year veteran of law enforcement, from sheriff’s deputy to chief and director of public safety, I firmly believe that nothing federal, state or local governments do about qualified immunity will significantly reduce or increase the incidence of unjustified deadly force by police. Real reform requires us to go much deeper than tweaking tort rules."


"A far better strategy would be to eliminate the risk of ending up in court. Just imagine what local and state governments could accomplish if they were to invest the money they spend on misconduct lawsuits on making policing more humane and more effective. They could better train officers in de-escalation tactics to reduce the likelihood of lethal violence. And they could train officers to use effective alternatives to lethal force and to deal with mentally disturbed people safely. Doing so would improve the public perception that the police have earned their authority from the community and that they use it to serve and protect, not to punish. Officers and agencies need to learn and embrace procedural justice — the idea that the processes by which police officers resolve disputes and police agencies allocate resources are fundamentally fair."

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