Law enforcement plays a vital role in keeping our communities safe and secure. But with this responsibility comes the potential for corruption and abuse of power.
And in multiple cases, law enforcement hasn’t been held accountable for their actions, leaving many people frustrated and distrustful of the justice system.
What is “qualified immunity?”
Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine that shields government officials from being held personally liable for specific actions they performed in their official capacity unless they violated “clearly established” federal law or constitutional rights.
Qualified immunity protects civil servants, including police officers, from lawsuits so they can perform their duties without fear of legal action.
However, some people believe that qualified immunity makes it difficult for victims of police abuse to hold law enforcement accountable for their actions. It is often central to discussions regarding police reform and civil rights violations.
So, in what ways does law enforcement abuse their power? Here are some examples:
- Using excessive force
- Racial profiling
- False arrests
- Unwarranted searches without probable cause
- Corruption and manipulating evidence
There are ways to address police power abuses through improved training that emphasizes de-escalation techniques, cultural sensitivity, bias and appropriate use of force. There also needs to be accountability and transparency by implementing body cameras and ensuring they are working and always turned on.
Still, the big push needs to be toward revising the laws that shield police officers from accountability. The qualified immunity doctrine must be changed to ensure they are held liable for their actions.
If you have been a victim of law enforcement’s abuse of power, it’s crucial that you receive justice and they are held accountable. Pushing for reform can help ensure that police responsibly exercise their authority.