Qualified immunity is one of the most important facets of police work today. The National Police Support Fund recently launched new resources to help police officers and those who support them understand their rights and protections on the job.
According to the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School, qualified immunity “protects a government official from lawsuits alleging that the official violated a plaintiff’s rights, only allowing suits where officials violated a clearly-established law.
In essence, qualified immunity shields police officers and other government officials from frivolous lawsuits, ensuring that they can make the best decisions for their situation without fear of unnecessary legal action.
Calls to remove qualified immunity began shortly after police-involved incidents with George Floyd and Breonna Taylor earlier this year. Advocates argued that removing qualified immunity would force police officers to be more accountable for their actions.
For police, however, it’s stressful enough having to make life and death decisions day in and day out — sometimes multiple times per day. Putting the men and women who we trust to protect our communities under the kind of microscope that comes with repealing qualified immunity would only increase that pressure.
At a time when many police departments are still reeling from COVID-19 and having trouble recruiting qualified officers, removing qualified immunity protections would make hiring even more difficult.
Opening individual police officers up to civil lawsuits could also cause financial damage to them and their families. Even if they ultimately win the lawsuit, they are still responsible for costly legal fees.
National Police Support Fund will continue its advocacy in support of our country’s police officers and do everything we can to ensure that the law provides them every protection they deserve. To learn more about National Police Support Fund’s qualified immunity project, visit nationalpolicesupportfund.com/qualified-immunity-fact-page/