It applies to all parts of government. Didn't get the building permit for your kids horse barn? Sue the planning commission members individually. Animal control writes you a citation for Puddles not being on a leash? Unleash the lawyers. Health department gave your wine bar a bad rating? Sue the inspector personally.
The way to fix policing isn't by making the rest of government worse. Reform unions for employees of the people. Create independent civilian oversight boards with the teeth to suspend and terminate. Invest more in mental health and drug rehabilitation services. Invest in educational resources to teach communities how to deal with law enforcement.
Edit to add: People are confusing civil liability with criminal liability. If you are found guilty of a crime, then you can be sued.
You have this exactly backwards.
It's telling that instead of mentioning doing away with warrior training, for instance, you list things we, the people, need to do to deal with poorly trained cops with licenses to kill, which, in the case of the police, is exactly what this immunity grants.
The police need better training to handle the people they serve and protect, period. The police need to perform better psychological evaluations of prospective cops. The police need to develop better community relations with the communities they serve.
I agree with reforming the unions and installing more independent civilian oversight. I also agree that the U.S. needs major reform of metal health and drug rehab, but that particular issue is more of a left outer join with the issue being discussed; they overlap unfortunately, but the all-too-often grim outcomes of that overlap are due to the state of policing.
The police and their unions acting in bad faith, and abusing their immunity, is why we're here. WE don't need to clean up our interactions with police. It's the other way around.
Edited: typo, wording, and removed unnecessary emphasis
If you read about the historical origins of the US police force, their (verifiably documented) lineage goes back to the days of English colonialism. Those original patrol groups were created to "protect" the damage/loss of property- namely to prevent runaway slaves from escaping their owner's control.
The US police force has, quite literally, always been first and foremost a way for the richest upper class to protect their wealth, power, and assets. They are a way to keep the status quo. The fact that they (sometimes) help poor and working class citizens is merely a by-product of their primary goal.
Where are these documents, and what do they verify?
Saying that an institution today goes back to an institution from the past doesn’t mean that it shares the same traits. Institutions change over time.
What you need to show is that the same purpose can be documented today as was there when the police were established.
From what I've read (e.g. https://plsonline.eku.edu/insidelook/history-policing-united...), the "slave patrol" thing is only part of the story. If anything, policing was developed first in the 17th century in England and the 13 colonies, and the slave patrols evolved to match the modernizing template of a police force.
If you want to lean a bit farther left, the obvious implication here is that police exist to benefit those who have power and property, projecting the former and protecting the latter; if necessary, abusing those who lack power/property in the process.
That policing ends up being "racist" then is then a natural consequence, and not at all an axiom.
Law and "order" can also mean keeping the order of classes as is.
The best people I would ever meet would not protect bad cops at every opportunity. The fact that police who stand up to bad policing are consistently removed from the ranks does not lend credence to your assertion.
If the shoe fits.
This is a general problem with the US court system. People with more resources can use it to destroy people with fewer resources, because litigation is expensive and time consuming even if you ultimately prevail.
This isn't a problem for the rich because they can survive the loss, and then the incentive to frivolously harass them isn't there when it costs you as much as it does them. It isn't a problem for government officials because of qualified immunity. It's a problem for everybody else.
Maybe we should take the exception away from government officials, to increase their incentive to solve it for everybody else.
1. They don't use precedent, judges rule based on legislation alone.
2. Germany criminal and administrative law uses an "inquisitorial" system where the judges perform fact-finding and question witnesses (in contrast to the "adversarial" system used in common law countries)
3. German lawyers have their fees set by the "RVG" (Act on the Remuneration of Lawyers) and even if the winner chose fancy lawyers that charge more than set by the RVG, the loser only pays the amount set by the RVG.
4. Contingency fees were completely banned until recently, and are very rarely used today.
5. There are no punitive damages awarded under the German legal system - only compensatory damages.
Between these factors, German trials cost a lot less - so legal fees don't ruin you financially even if you lose.
In Poland where we have similar rules in place it's just purely theoretical principle. In practice precedent is very important and learning about what other courts ruled ("orzecznictwo") is what lawyers spend their time on. It's as important if not more than the letter of the law in practice.
Source: my ex was a lawyer and we have a number of lawyer friends (judges, attorneys, corporate lawyers).
There are indeed inconsistencies in the decisions of the lower courts, and in some cases (like defamation suits) with no clear geographic reference this can lead to forum shopping.
Edit: An important point that I forgot to make is that in cases where a lower court might deviate from the usual legal practice, it may be required to ask a higher court to decide in the matter precisely to avoid grave inconsistencies. So case law is never completely irrelevant in Germany.
Formalizing into law the system where a judge decides what is a reasonable amount of attorney's fees definitely sounds like an improvement! Though I can see where revamping the fundamental structure of a legal system could be challenging, time-consuming, and probably messy.
Edit: not that I support the legal status quo, I just don't see the public bipartisan will to make that level of systemic reform
Evolved law systems, like common law, do have some elegance that most people tend to overlook. Here's one article I found very interesting:
It’s probably just best to leave it to the discretion of the courts to decide whether one side pays the costs of the other. Better than legislating that the loser always pays.
And let's be real, how often do a normal person sue big corps like the ones you mention and actually win ?
Obviously, the discretion of the courts hasn't been consistent nor has it always been fair. Hence, rules.
"To further this goal, the losing side doesn’t usually pay the winning side's attorney's fees. In the United States, the rule (called the American Rule) is that each party pays only their own attorneys' fees, regardless of whether they win or lose."
US courts can award costs, and they do in many circumstances. But it is not automatic by any means. Even in countries where costs are awarded automatically, actually collecting on those costs is difficult - I personally know people who have successfully defended themselves and are in exactly this situation in the EU.
Meanwhile I had to pay my lawyer. I would have been better off doing nothing, and in hindsight I would not pursue the case.
> In Germany, all costs associated with a lawsuit have to be paid/reimbursed by the losing party.
> That is already how it works in US civil litigation.
An optional agreement between parties is absolutely not the same as a mandatory, by-default, loser pays system. And yes, in my case getting an agreement like that was certainly going to be impossible.
Also, re: Google and Oracle, the payment was after petitioning the judge - as often happens - and those costs were awarded because the lawsuit was particularly pointless. Yet even then they did not include millions of dollars in discovery costs, so Google got much less than 100% of their legal costs: https://www.tweaktown.com/news/25667/oracle_must_pay_google_... I do not believe you are correct in saying there was any prior agreement.
And of course, nothing at all. And yes, I agree that having only some types of costs awarded and not others can easily be absurd.
The current system is not perfect but if does very clearly incentivize people not to incur legal fees in excess of the actual amount of money being argued about.
The vast vast majority of legal cases are settled through negotiation.
Shouldn’t we all be able to carry out our lives without undue fear of personal liability or harassing litigation?
It makes no sense to provide a special civil liberty for government employees and no one else.
If we need to reign in law suits, then let’s do that for everyone.
The legal system is unfortunately set up such that there is a significant burden (time and cost) on defendants, even when cases are brought without merit.
In that way, the legal system can be "weaponized" and public employees can be influenced to act a certain way under the threat of a sea of PERSONAL lawsuits. ...something that seldom happens to individuals.
For that reason, immunity was created. I think we'll see a very sharp increase in lawsuits as a result of this change. ...and a lot of resignations. I wouldn't be a police officer if I didn't have immunity. At the very least, I would refuse to work shifts/neighborhoods with high crime.
You mean bouncers, train conductors, cabin crew members and hotel receptionists?
In sectors where private compete with public that's very difficult to understand why people should be regulated by different laws.
...which is generally how it works, though it's not as strongly codified as it is with qualified immunity.
If you're saying we should expand qualified immunity, I agree.
They aren’t, outside of government-agent immunities.
> ...which is generally how it works, though it's not as strongly codified as it is with qualified immunity
No, it is not how it works. The idnividual agent is generally personally liable, but the employer generally is often also liable for the torts of its agents under the principle of respondeat superior, or more directly if it also checks all the boxes for having committed a tort without considering that principle.
> INDEMNIFICATION BY PUBLIC BODY.--A judgment awarded pursuant to the New Mexico Civil Rights Act against a person acting on behalf of, under color of or within the course and scope of the authority of the public body shall be paid by the public body.
I agree that a lot of time the institution are liable (mostly for ordering people to achieve impossible target).
Victims currently have little or no recourse, so govt employees can run wild. Non-govt handles this by insurance (liability, error and ommission). Govt can and should do the same.
Equal rights, or not?
Software developers don’t have this fear, so we get to kill people through releasing buggy bloated applications without any fear of personal liability.
We should. A software engineer was one of a handful of people sentenced in the Volkswagen emissions scandal.
People think there is an epidemic of police murdering minorities, but in reality the number of unarmed black men killed by police is somewhere between bear attacks and babies drowning in buckets in terms of annual deaths.
That's not to downplay the horror of such killings, but to put it into perspective of the pervasiveness of the problem. The media and especially social media of turned it into a full blown public health crisis.
You're comparing accidents to murder¹.
We can and should try to prevent deaths from bear attacks. But we should also have higher standards for human behavior than for bears.
¹Or at best manslaughter
We need a replacement, one written in legislation, that puts fixed narrow limits on how immunity applies. If you break the law - you should receive no protections. There is no excuse for enforcers of law to not know the law. This will put the liability into officers And government workers/representatives hands and force them to respect the law.
I wonder how often cops break the law because they actually don't know, or if they do know but also know they'll get away with it.
For example, police are still trying to arrest people for recording them, despite courts repeatedly upholding that citizens have a right to record police. Do cops actually don't know citizens have the right to record them, or are they just making threats that they know won't hold up because they know they can get away with the lie?
That is how our whole system works. The first amendment for example doesn't have an explicit "yelling fire in a movie theatre" exemption, yet the courts have defined tests that determine if speech is protected.
> We need a replacement [...] If you break the law - you should receive no protections
That is exactly how it works today. Once you have been found guilty in a criminal court, you no longer have any protections against civil cases.
I don't think this is true?
The test is much more narrow than this. You could potentially be convicted of a crime even if you didn't have a reasonable belief that you were doing so, but qualified immunity explicitly dictates that you have to be intending to break the law or that your actions both violate a law and that there is extremely clear precedent that they do so.
That seems, unusually for civil cases, to be a much higher bar than criminal conviction requires.
Interpreting the law, such as what the first amendment is supposed to mean, is indeed what the courts are supposed to do. Making up new laws wholesale is supposed to be the legislature's job.
Always remember that this was an argument to imprison people for passing out flyers opposing the WWI military draft.
That's hardly unusual in a common law system..
If I were to tweak it, I would make precedent expire, and even obligate the legislature to vote on a bill by the time it does that the courts ratify disambiguates the issue at and. Consistency and democracy.
I mean the examples you mentioned would get thrown out by a judge because the examples cited are people doing their jobs.
They're getting rid of qualified immunity because the police is abusing their power to assault and murder people.
I'm not even going to soften that one by saying 'some' police, because inaction is complicity. If one in ten cops are bad, the other nine are complicit for not acting and correcting the one.
If people don't want to be sued civil they should do a better job first. Removing bs laws that don't regulate anything anyway would be good also.
Laws are meant to be respected not to be dodge because your job is important. Everybody job is.
Sure, but that something isn't criminal law.
> “In such cases, when the court declines to establish whether police used excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment, it avoids setting a clearly established precedent for future cases, even for the most egregious acts of police violence,” the report said. “In effect, the same conduct can repeatedly go unpunished.”
> For example, there’s Jessop v. City of Fresno, Calif., in which a pair of businessmen alleged that police officers had stolen some $225,000 in cash and rare coins they had seized while executing search warrants. The officers were deemed entitled to qualified immunity because “at the time of the incident, there was no clearly established law holding that officers violate the Fourth or Fourteenth Amendment when they steal property seized pursuant to a warrant.”
In order for police to detain people they need to place them under arrest, which includes Maranda warnings, or have a signed warrant.
That is not true. Police can detain you for some period of time without placing you under arrest. You can be detained for “reasonable suspicion” that you were involved in a crime. There are naturally a lot of arguments about what qualifies as reasonable suspicion.
This is why every “know your rights” organization instructs people to ask, “am I being detained? am I free to leave?” when trying to determine their status or end a police encounter. The link below is just one example.
That is a 4th amendment violation. You are free to leave police presence at any time up until they place you under arrest. If you are detained without arrest the remedy is to ask to be arrested. At that point police must arrest you or release you, because any evidence or detention after that point is invalid and invalidate such in the future for the related matter.
Of course an even better answer is to just ask for an attorney, but either way the result is the same.
Asking for arrest will not help your case, nor will asking for a lawyer.
You can be hauled to jail without charges as well, since most places have a grace period before they file the charges.
That is not a lawful detainment. Out convenience for both parties police can ask a suspect to wait until a warrant arrives so that the police don't have to arrest them. In other words you can offer to leave, but they are going to arrest you anyways otherwise the detainment is completely voluntary.
A traffic stop is a temporary detention without an arrest. You are not free to leave.
We have friendly prosecutors who "could indict a ham sandwich" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ham_sandwich#Cultural_impact) mysteriously failing to get an indictment to handle the criminal side of it.
An indictment is a motion to proceed to trial, and often doesn't even require the availability or presence of the person. An arrest is a detention of a person to police custody.
QI shields them from civil suits, so they're quite well protected on both fronts.
That’s exactly the way it should work! If an animal control guy has it in for you and writes you off-leash citations every week while you’re in your own back yard, if the health inspector says he won’t permit black people to stay in business, then you absolutely should be protected by the law. Anything else is plain classism: an implicit assumption that members of a certain class are always in the right, and a requirement to deal with conflict with them not from a position of equal power and rights, but only by hoping to convince them to have mercy.
Certainly getting sued over every little thing would be impracticable, too. But that’s also true for citizens. If the laws that protect us aren’t good enough, then the solution is better laws, not to exempt some classes from the law!
Many lawyers will work on contingency, so it kind of is much more accessible.
In response to your assertion that the courts don’t work:
> If the laws that protect us aren’t good enough, then the solution is better laws, not to exempt some classes from the law!
Your comment does not address the basic problem with a legislative implementation of freedom: it is undemocratic because the power to fight legal battles will always be constrained by money, therefore giving more weight to those that have more. That makes the legislative or libertarian version of freedom undemocratic. If that interests you, basically any critique of libertarianism will cover it. (Where it gets really interesting is where funding for its promotion come from!)
Better laws can be achieved by a democratic process also: you simply vote for candidates that advocate your view. This is democratic because everyone gets the same weight.
Naturally, if you have the means, that may seem inefficient, but then that was never the point of democracy, and as far as I am concerned, must never be the point of freedom either.
You were not being uncivil.
Yes, my comment did not address the US legal system’s wealth bias, except to say that if it needs solving then all citizens should benefit from the solution, not just one class. So I’m not sure why you’re painting me as having one view or another on the solution. What I attacked was different laws for different people. Am I to understand that you believe legal classes are necessary to solve wealth bias? Could you explain the link to me?
> the power to fight legal battles will always be constrained by money
In the US, under our current system. It’s not a result of democracy, it’s a result of a largely privatized legal system.
Also, what exactly are you arguing here? That the power to fight legal battles is bad?
> That makes the legislative or libertarian version of freedom undemocratic.
Dictatorship is undemocratic. Biased legal systems are flawed, maybe unfair, not undemocratic.
Again, I fail to see what this has to do with qualified immunity, or how qualified immunity is more democratic.
> Naturally, if you have the means, that may seem inefficient, but then that was never the point of democracy, and as far as I am concerned, must never be the point of freedom either.
I haven’t said a word about inefficiency.
Biased legal systems are biased towards the affluent. That is an uncontested tell for problematic democratic legitimacy. Because it's difficult to remove that bias entirely, qualified immunity is a tool to defend from wealthy parties.
I made the link to libertarianism because this is a stated goal in most of their thinking: courts over democracy, and it's up to you to be able to afford it. Affiliated think tanks are quite lucid as to why : precisely because it stacks the system in favor of the affluent. And that is thus precisely why I'm against any move in the direction of a litigious society, even though I can imagine and recall cases where I'd certainly like to.
 Some thinking from these property rights supremacists (read: unapologetic in their favoring of 'freedom' over democracy): https://fee.org/articles/freedom-and-democracy-are-different...
(our own comparable issue is probably Northern Ireland, and the still-outstanding litigation around Bloody Sunday and "Soldier F" etc)
If a truck driver enraged about his wife's infidelity decides to drive his truck through the motel his wife is cheating in you don't sue the trucking company (well you probably do, but they lawyer up and their lawyers spell out why it's not worth your time), you sue the driver.
The problem is that this pattern of action falls apart for agents the government because of qualified immunity. If a cop does something bad and the government says "hey, it ain't on us, we told him not to do that, heck, we even trained him to avoid getting into those situations" the plaintiff is out of luck (except for the existing narrow exception to qualified immunity). Getting rid of qualified immunity would put government employees in the same situation literally every other employee is in.
> It applies to all parts of government. Didn't get the building permit for your kids horse barn? Sue the planning commission members individually. Animal control writes you a citation for Puddles not being on a leash? Unleash the lawyers. Health department gave your wine bar a bad rating? Sue the inspector personally.
In Germany, police officers (and other government officials) only have personal liability if they intentionally act against the law or are grossly negligent in following their duties. The scenarios you describe would lead to all these lawsuits being thrown out in court as frivolous.
The correct way to appeal against executive decisions (the denial of building permit, the citation for your unleashed poodle or the bad health rating for the bar) is to file a suit at an administrative court ("Verwaltungsgericht"). Plead your case there and the court can override the executive decision.
I am definitely not a lawyer or even good at "law" but that would just be insane if the truth is otherwise
New York City taxpayers pay $300M a year or so (IIRC) paying out civil judgements against the exceptionally violent NYPD.
I feel the issue here is that the courts are corrupt and do not convict police for their crimes. Not that you cannot sue employees. I feel fixing a broken criminal justice system with civil lawsuits only creates more issues than it solves.
It's often not so simple.
The police retaliate against politicians who don't toe the line. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/01/nyregion/chiara-de-blasio...
Bad cops often can't be gotten rid of: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/30/police-union...
> A court in 2009 convicted Washington DC police officer Michael Sugg-Edwards of sexually assaulting a teenage woman in his squad car. After conducting its own internal investigation, the department quickly fired the then 35-year-old officer.
> But, six years later, Sugg-Edwards was back on the force. A provision in the police union’s contract allowed him to appeal against the decision to a union-selected arbitrator who reversed the department’s firing and reinstated him – with back pay.
> In San Antonio, an officer fired twice for challenging handcuffed suspects to fight him for their freedom was reinstated by an arbitrator both times. A second San Antonio officer who engaged in unauthorized car chases was also reinstated twice. In Columbus and Oklahoma, officers who kicked men in the head were rehired.
Any consequences, even kludgy ones, are better than none.
Perhaps the increased cost of liability insurance for the most violent will ultimately force them out of a job that shields them from criminal liability for violent crime, as someone else pointed out.
1. It emboldens those who do harm and allows that kind of behavior to become systemic (as it has in police culture)
2. It removes an incentive to improve our court systems and legal processes, because those closest to those legal systems have generally been immune.
> If you are found guilty of a crime, then you can be sued.
?? Generally, people want justice to be served. If a police officer had already been found guilty, they've already been given a sentence. That rarely happens because police departments and their unions stonewall efforts to determine truth and charge appropriately.
You see no issue with that, seriously?
But it isn't; only the government can do that, and they don't want to.
In this case their was abundant video.
Usually no one is around when cops are being bad, and their cop cams are always flipped off?
The obvious solution is to ensure that police are actually tried and sentenced like regular citizens if they break criminal law, but I suppose we can’t have nice things.
Qualified immunity isn't a get-out-of-jail-free card. It is released, for example, when a government official breaks clearly established law. (Counterfactual: the courts have been very narrow in interpreting what "clearly established" means.)
> Critics have cited examples such as a November 2019 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which found that an earlier court case ruling it unconstitutional for police to sic dogs on suspects who have surrendered by lying on the ground did not apply under the "clearly established" rule to a case in which Tennessee police allowed their police dog to bite a surrendered suspect because the suspect had surrendered not by lying down but by sitting on the ground and raising his hands.
The net effect of this appears to basically be that it's impossible to prove literally anything pierces qualified immunity unless it was ruled on prior to the establishment of qualified immunity as a defense. How exactly can you create precedent when you require nearly identical precedent to set it? It's a blatant catch-22. Like, literally something that could have been in the book Catch 22.
No, its a get-out-of-civil-liability-free card.
> It is released, for example, when a government official breaks clearly established law.
No, its not. As well as meeting the extremely narrow standard established for violating “clearly established law” and act must also fail to meet the extremely broad standard established for being an “objectively reasonable action”; otherwise, even if it violates a clearly established legal right, it remains protected by QI.
While some protection loosely similar to QI may make sense, the actual rules around QI, both at the high level and in the details of how the high-level rules are applied, are particularly bad, especially, in practice, in the case of law enforcement officials, who practice within the law enforcement community puts at greatly reduced likelihood of being held criminally accountable for violations of rights than non-law-enforcement government agents.
There is no qualified immunity protection upon the conviction of a criminal act regardless of how narrow or broad underlying factors are.
In case of their gross misconduct - sure.
This is the same situation we have with non-government employees right now. Would you sue a club bouncer because he denied you entry? I guess no.
Make all employees have qualified immunity, can't be sued for things you did while working, what could go wrong?
> the solution should be to end qualified immunity for police only. There is a difference between health department inspector and police officer, no reason to apply the same standards in both cases.
That makes no sense. A government official performing a government job because they are required to by the government should not then be ordered by the government's court system to pay restitution for damages caused by the government's ordered action.
Beyond the principle of the matter, the pragmatic reality is that no sane person would ever work in law enforcement if their kid's college fund is subject to being raided for doing their jobs.
There is a lot of grey area in qualified immunity. Government officials actions are protected so long as they are legal. If someone knowingly orders an illegal action, qualified immunity no longer applies. If someone knowingly follows an illegal order, they too may bear burden. (If they unknowingly follow an illegal order, we enter the greyer shades of grey.)
Nope, not really.
> Government actions are protected so long as they are legal. If someone orders an illegal action, they are no longer protected by being government agents because they weren't lawfully acting in their capacities as one
This is not correct. It is not enough for there to be "an illegal action," the action has to have been in violation of clearly established law.
Please stop spreading misinformation in this thread. Having strong feelings on a legal topic does not make you a lawyer.
Within the context of a political discussion among laymen, yes. The relevant case law stretches over decades and jurisdictions. That said, one person's grey is another's black and white.
> This is not correct
It's not phrased legally precisely. But unless I missed something recently, the clearly established law requirement set by Harlow still holds.
Disclosure: I am not a lawyer. I have worked on rule making and legislation in this domain.
> Government actions are protected so long as they are legal.
Generally, actions which are legal are not subject to legal liability, you don’t need immunity when your action isn’t illegal.
Illegal government actions are often protected by governmental immunities, but that’s not the issue here.
Illegal individual actions by government agents related to their job duties may be covered by either absolute or qualified immunity, based on the rules applicable to each type of immunity.
> If someone orders an illegal action, they are no longer protected by being government agents because they weren’t lawfully acting in their capacities as one.
No, such an order could easily be covered by either absolute or qualified immunity. For instance, an illegal Presidential order is within the coverage of the President's absolute immunity. An order from an official not covered by or doing the kinds of duties subject to absolute immunity, which despite being illegal is not of a kind which a closely similar fact pattern has been definitively found to be illegal in the past, would fall within qualified immunity, generally.
> If someone knowingly follows an illegal order, they too bear the burden.
If they know or had constructive notice through an applicable ruling that the order was illegal, sure, provided absolute immunity doesn’t apply (note that “knowingly followed an illegal order” can mean “knowingly followed an order, which order factually was illegal whether or not that was known”.)
Legally, given the facts and circumstances, mostly agreed. (Though, hell, I think even Kagan and Scalia were complaining a few years ago about the circuits splitting on these questions.)
Practically, I still argue it is. I'm not going out on a limb in saying that most people, cops or not, don't have a running list of unlawful behaviors for which there is clear judicial precedent. Which means when they commit an act, there is ambiguity--reasonable ambiguity, given we're consulting a litany versus heuristic--with respect to its legality. On a legal level, this is true of any action. On a practical level, it's not. (And the argument against limitedly abolishing qualified immunity largely revolves around it not being.)
I've watched two law firms evaluating a specific case with respect to a hypothetical amendment to qualified immunity statute come to wildly different conclusions about how it would be interpreted by the courts. That is practically grey area, even if legally it's operating on a hard-bound checklist. (New York State law is also a mess in this particular respect.)
Colloquially, if given a set of facts and circumstances it cannot confidently predict how the courts would rule, where questions must be answered about extraordinary circumstances and whether this unlawful action was sufficiently close to that case, the law can be said to be ambiguous and grey.
(Note: not sure why you're being downvoted. It's a good comment. To a striking degree, it illustrates the root of this issue, politically--the spirit of the law deviates wildly from its practice.)
The government is not requiring cops to send innocent people to jail, kill extrajudicially, or otherwise ruin peoples’ lives simply because they felt like it. In fact, that’s the exact opposite of justice, which is actually their mandate.
> There’s no rational distinction between [police officers and health inspectors]
One has leeway to kill innocent people outside of the court system based on subjective characteristics (“I was scared”) with little consequence, the other checks a court-approved checklist and passes or fails based on an objective criteria.
> No same person would ever work in law enforcement if their kid’s college fund is subject to being raised because they did their jobs
Again, it is antithetical to their job to carry out injustice, and when people mess up their job bad enough, such a killing or framing an innocent person (intentionally or not), there should be consequences. Similar to how bad surgeons who have a clear pattern of killing their patients (intentionally or not) are taken out of operating rooms and medicinal license potentially revoked, or the corrupt lawyer who colludes with the other side in return for kickbacks is disbarred.
Unlike the overworked DMV employee who didn’t properly register someone in the system and wasted most of their day, when an overworked cop messes up, someone just lost a whole more time they’ll never get back — potentially a life’s worth.
You can't talk about justice in one breath and vengeance against the fall guy in the next. If a police officer unintentionally kills an innocent person because they were, e.g., ordered to perform an armed no-knock raid in the middle of the night in a state where 42.4% of the population owns firearms, it is the local government -- not the individual police officer -- who killed that innocent person.
As it is, a citizen cannot normally charge a cop with a crime, so all legal recourse against the police must go through a civil court in practice, where the doctrine of qualified immunity acts as a shield
The person who pulls the trigger is the one who is the killer. The local government has no hands with which to operate a firearm's trigger.
Please be very careful not to misattribute or diffuse the responsibility for unnecessary violence carried out by violent, criminal cops.
Yes state is guilty too. But, seriously, you accept that death of innocent person in a raid is normal result of normal police behavior? Even if there is reason for no-knock raid, cops dont have to kill everything that moves.
If I don’t get any protection for that, why would I err on the side of intervening in ambiguous situations.
I’d even argue that it’s normal to expect some mistakes, and in general QI should be protected for this reason.
Govt should realize police are only real thing they have to enforce those reams of legalese (not taking about other things like fines). Meaning if they want to stop you RIGHT NOW, they going to have to use a cop. Govt shooting themselves in the foot by neutering their legitimacy to enforce what they say we have to do
They don't for obvious reasons. If people need protection from certain laws, then write that in the specific laws.
The position of most on the US center right is that because of governments unique power over our lives we ought to be very careful about what we allow them to do.
No, you are talking about something else, which is called sovereign immunity.
Qualified immunity is a dumb concept the courts made up to protect police officers.
San Antonio, TX will be voting in May on whether to disband the police union. "Back the Blue" types are saying it's Defund in disguise, that we won't be able to find good cops, and so on.
Except several large cities in Texas don't have unionized police, and they do alright. Furthermore, the cops in San Antonio can commit really awful crimes, and still have months- or years-long appeals.
Being a cop isn't a right, it is a privilege and a critical duty. It should be easy to fire bad cops. SAPD, if you didn't want your union to be busted, maybe you should have held yourselves to a higher standard.
Public unions, and police unions specifically, are distinct in their impact on society from other unions.
Police have negotiated the right to beat and murder people and keep their jobs with pay for months.
There are cities where Derek Chauvin would have been on paid leave for weeks after killing george floyd. Minneapolis had the right to fire his ass when they saw how bad a cop he was.
But don't blame them for something which is unrelated to the union itself.
There are cities where Derek Chauvin would have been on paid leave for weeks after killing george floyd.
Yes, and the police forces in those cities would all be unionized. Clearly, the issue is not the union; it is the city or county that negotiated poorly with the union. Though generally, in some states like the US Deep South, politicians are more than happy to give officers unlimited rights even without the unions requesting them.
Minneapolis had the right to fire his ass when they saw how bad a cop he was.
They fired him literally the next day. For prior incidents, none of them rose to the level justifying termination. That would have been true even in a non-union force.
First result on google for civil forfeiture. Followed up by searching for [law enforcement agency] and union returns zero results for the worst locations.
Police officers are unionized pretty much everywhere. Sheriffs, which carry out the most egregious civil asset forfeitures (usually in small travel-through towns), generally are not unionized outside of the big counties and states.
Mine: Unions have a direct, negative influence on the ability for departments/cities to fire bad cops.
Yours: There is correlation, but not causation, between non-unionized police departments and instances of civil asset forfeiture.
But since the US refuses to address any of the issues, it's stuck trying to fix the problem without being able to fix the problem.
What concerns me most (and I see it here in the UK too) isn't these issues themselves, it is the inability of people (media, politicians and everyday citizens) to have an adult conversation about any of it. If the US collectively said "we accept these events as a downside of our way of life" I might not agree but I'd understand. Instead people act like they're surprised or pretend they can be fixed by tinkering around the edges. It seems quite dishonest...
That's a bit unfair I think. We have a lot of things to improve, but we absolutely are trying to change things all over the country.
Volunteer programs for under-privileged kids on the east side of my town make sure kids have food during the day and a positive adult role model to spend time with them after school for a few hours a week. That's a slow burn kind of investment that affects poverty, racial inequalities (and kinds of intolerance), mental health, violence, and all sort of other stuff. I haven't performed a trial or a study, so I don't have any sort of peer reviewed journal to link you to. But it's happening.
Those are largely the voters who voted in the President (Reagan) who dismantled our large parts of our mental health infrastructure in the 80s, and who since have voted in Presidents that have attempted to make our healthcare system more adversarial towards patients. They are (now) a distinct minority of voters, but unfortunately we do not live in a very representative republic.
> In the United States, qualified immunity is a legal principle that grants government officials performing discretionary functions immunity from civil suits unless the plaintiff shows that the official violated "clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known".
Eat donuts, ignore the radio and you will be fine.
It's already a job very few people want to do and you're making it even less desirable.
This is a good way to ensure you only get shitty cops.
In this case, one could gather data from different countries to see if there's any correlation between the effectiveness of police and their level of legal protection.
AFAIK, police forces in other rich nations function just fine without qualified immunity (admittedly, I have not studied this in detail).
Sure, in a different context it may be a necessary condition, if you consider all other variables immutable. But there's no need to do that. Many variables can be changed, including the legal system.
I think if you observe that your legal system is so janky that you can only have a functioning police force by making police officers selectively immune to the law, your response should be to not accept such a kludge and insist on actually reforming your legal system.
What we want is for the police to behave better.
The mechanism is increased legal liability. That is, both the fear and effects off law suits.
Presumably, law suits would have to rise, especially at first, for this to work because I’m pretty sure the fear of increased legal liability alone will not change police behavior significantly. They will need to feel the teeth of this.
Wtf kind of logic is this?
Women are all different. Some women love the idea of men asking for consent, others would find this a huge turnoff. Not all women do non-verbal consent in the same ways. To make it harder, men are expected to be the one making the moves and taking the lead.
I just made a quick Google search -  contains a link to a Reddit post from ~2 years ago. This man keeps getting told "it's not sexy to ask". Some women responding love the idea, others say they would hate it. Ever since #metoo I've made sure to very careful about consent, I even get verbal consent, and I know it's turned some dating partners away. So until women make dating clearer for men maybe you should hold back some of your judgement.
P.S. I'm 35 and have an above average partner count despite actively not sleeping around. I'm not some bumbling awkward guy that's never dated women.
 - https://www.reddit.com/r/unpopularopinion/comments/alxofq/me...
Similarly, why would I join a dept with a weak union when I can be in one where I’m backed by a union that for better or worse will assume innocent until proven guilty and protect the paying members.
Then it’s not surprising if you get a bunch of bullies drunk on power with guns. They need to be accountable because they can ruin people’s lives or end them altogether, and regularly do.
> going thru the process to become LE, in general I’m not looking to be a corrupt maniac.
Then the process needs improvements. It looks like there are way too many corrupt maniacs getting through.
> Similarly, why would I join a dept with a weak union when I can be in one where I’m backed by a union that for better or worse will assume innocent until proven guilty and protect the paying members.
Innocent until proven guilty is for plebs. The problem is when they are shielded from even getting prosecuted. This is no justice.
From the society’s point of view some degree of protection of law enforcement is useful, because it helps them do their job in difficult situations. However, the rest of us need to trust law enforcement, otherwise the social contract breaks down. This means we need to trust that they get punished when they kill people they should not or when they bully and harass people for the lulz. Otherwise, what’s the incentive for them to behave?
What I'm hinting at is that a neurotic police force would be less likely to harm people. But also take less action in general, solve less crime.
Police report to elected governments. They are checked the same way the rest of the state is: through elections.
Police pay is high across America because they're widely seen as bringing value to the community. Their strikes are feared by politicians; the cops turning on the mayor signals instant political death in most cities. If that perception of police frays, their leverage disappears.
More pointedly, if a civil servant decides it's too much legal responsibility to not break the law, they should find another line of work.
This describes a lot of jobs. Statistically, police work is less fatal than roofing, truck driving, garbage collecting and farming . With respect to dealing with non-dangerous people who simply aren't nice, talk to a server or bartender or anyone who works in retail.
> will likely fight and resist
A small fraction (about one in eight) resist arrest . Most of this is due to police having been thanklessly given, fairly recently, the job of dealing with our mentally ill .
> can just avoid risky situations by doing absolute minimum and not showing up or not engaging
Again, this describes a lot of jobs. If a department is staffed by people who won't work unless they feel free to break the law, it's crying out for overhaul.
We've given police tremendous pay, perks and employment protections. If it turns out a good fraction of a department's staff are too lethargic or terrified to do their jobs (for which we have zero evidence), they were improperly staffed.
There's essentially no penalty for being a cowardly cop. The las Vegas cop who chickened out of confronting the shooter got fired, for instance, but even he was reinstated.
Just checking are you aware that this isn't how it is in most other countries?
The people in similar countries manage to get by with a whole lot less violence just fine.
Training to be a cop often is less than to become a Teacher.
Cops aren't even in the top 20 most dangerous job in America. Loggers, Sailors, Fishers, pilots, construction, oil-industry, roofers, drivers, farmers, etc are all more dangerous jobs.
Honestly, cops should be paid somewhere around what a security guard at a bank is paid.
Below is a list of the top-10 highest-paying states for police officers:
- national average: $67,600
- California average police officer salary: $105,220
- Alaska average police officer salary: $87,870
- New Jersey average police officer salary: $86,840
- Washington average police officer salary: $80,200
- Hawaii average police officer salary: $78,720
- Illinois average police officer salary: $78,350
- New York average police officer salary: $77,490
- Colorado average police officer salary: $75,720
- Delaware average police officer salary: $73,740
- Nevada average police officer salary: $73,660
Compare with teachers, the highest state (New York) averages $85,889 with national average $61,730.
Source : https://www.businessinsider.com/teacher-salary-in-every-stat...
"As of 2018, the average U.S. household income was $87,864, while the median household income was $61,937.
When the median is considerably lower than the average, it means that there are outliers on the top end. In short, a few people who make a lot of money boost the average. So $61,937 may be a more accurate representation of typical household earnings."
Have you considered maybe teachers are poorly paid, rather than police are highly paid?
> Cops aren't even in the top 20 most dangerous job in America
Did I say they were? Did I say they should be paid based on danger? So why do you think this is relevant?
> national average: $67,600 .. median household income was $61,937
All your numbers say they earn roughly a basic middle income for their locations. That's not 'highly paid'.
> cops should be paid somewhere around what a security guard at a bank is paid
Why would anyone take the job of being the officer over being the security guard in that case? Why take on the additional duties and responsibilities, the being in hazardous environments like messy crime scenes, and why take on the intellectual work of detection?
I don't get why any member of society would argue for another memory of society to get less money for their job.
‘What we need is lower wages for the working class!’
Both can be true at the same time.
Doctors can be sued for malpractice yet they still perform operations.
If we increase (already high) risk of being a cop, then we will have to be ready to pay 200k-300k salaries.
You pulled the “trigger a European” card.
This is not why the US healthcare is astronomically high. The reason is: practically no meaningful regulation and thus free roaming oligopolies of a few providers with insane billing practices (which hospitals are covered, etc.). And much more...
The department can still fire an officer (assuming no union intervention) for failing to do their job, even if they can't be sued.
- QI has been defined as so broadly covering the police that any situation that hasn't explicitly already been defined as an overreach or overreaction will be considered as covered by QI, so officers face little to no personal accountability.
- Police and civilian oversight boards are largely ineffective at doling out substantial punishments, so officers face little to no professional accountability. Such oversight is typically fought, and fought hard, by police unions.
As a result of this, police officers face little pushback for misbehavior, or even patterns of misbehavior. Court decisions narrowing the scope of QI as it applies to police officers (eg: any behavior by a police officer that's not "by the book" would not be considered eligible for QI) would go a long way towards providing accountability.
You usually sue state officials under Federal law when a state doesn't permit residents to sue them at all, or if the claims, defenses, or remedies are too strict. A Civil War Reconstruction-era Federal statue, the Ku Klux Klan Act (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ku_Klux_Klan_Act), enacted under the newly granted powers of the 14th Amendment, permitted people to sue state officials whence previously they were barred by state sovereign immunity. The act was rarely used for the first 80 or so years; why I don't know. Qualified immunity is something SCOTUS cooked up after a rapid increase in such law suits caused some judicial anxiety about the potential chilling effect of supposedly frivolous law suits. To be fair, this was at a time when a rather liberal Supreme Court was effectively inventing new rights, like so-called Miranda rights, right to appointed counsel when indigent, etc, the scope of which were then unclear.
Whichever rather liberal supreme court that was let's get them back ASAP!
Miranda Rights had historical precedence in England, but IIRC mostly after America forked.
The right to counsel mentioned in the U.S. Bill of Rights only meant you had a right to be represented by your own attorney, presuming you had the means, not that the state or court had to provide one.
To the point you mentioned, from the Sixth Amendement: "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right ... to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence." You can argue over how that counsel should be appointed, but I would categorically disagree with the interpretation that it only refers to you hiring your own attorney.
 "nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself"
This is the problem with creating new rules out of whole-cloth from the bench.
But also regardless, QI is an extension of sovereign immunity. Therefore, the legislature is free to waive it by statue. That's what NM has done. It's not saying QI doesn't exist, it's that this state waives its privileges.
Don't! If you bash it open, llamas will flood the world and whip everybody's ass in retaliation!
It is a risky job and it should valued as such. It should be selective too.
We have bodycams, to reduce the chances of "he said, she said"
> Officers in [Finland and Norway] must attend their nations' three-year police universities, and leave with degrees that are equivalent to a bachelor's.
> Rune Glomseth, a professor at the Norwegian police university, Politihøgskolen, said policing is approached as an academic discipline. "It's the same quality of education that we have for teachers, nurses, and so on," said Glomseth, who was also a police officer for three decades.
> The first year of police education in Norway is focused on the role of police in society and ethics. In the second year, students shadow training officers, before returning full time for a third year focused on investigations and completing a thesis paper.
I'd love to see this happen here.
Great, so I'm paying for the sins of crappy cops via my taxes. Do I have an ability to influence my city or state to not hire unethical cops? (serious question)
> That means a department will be more likely to reform practices and policies which would cause frequent lawsuits instead of simply instituting policies to optimize for arrests or convictions.
The insurance idea is stupid. It will just end up being bought by the union, removing the individual incentive component, and added as a line item the next time pay negotiations come up.
They don't need to, but that's not how insurance is sold. Unions collectively buy and negotiate benefits for their members. And a requirement from the union would be, no doubt, universal coverage and pricing.
They are allowed to work for pension increase, wages, vacation time, but not allowed to touch disciplinary situations?
the negative actions I associate with police unions is stepping in to protect corrupt or violent cops from disciplinary actions / firing / arrest.
Cant the Feds step in?
MUNI is a dysfunctional mess because the Union has the power to shut down a public service if their every demand isn't met.
Choose ones who want to divert paramilitary funding to other social safety net services.