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New Mexico is the second state to ban qualified immunity (innocenceproject.org)
416 points by williamsharris 2 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 309 comments





The purpose of qualified immunity is to permit officials to carry out their discretionary duties without fear of personal liability or harassing litigation.

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.


> Invest in educational resources to teach communities how to deal with law enforcement.

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


I agree with all of your points, except for your idea of "the people they serve and protect."

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.


> their (verifiably documented) lineage

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.


I've heard this argument before and I think it's a cherry-picked factoid meant to sound scarier than it is.

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.


> 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.

Law and "order" can also mean keeping the order of classes as is.


Way to go turning the whole of the police force into a bunch of racist bigots. With many family members serving in both law enforcement and the military, this is one of the most offensive things I have heard in a long time. 99% of the police are some of the best people you will ever meet, and they will even serve and protect people like you who don't appreciate them and would spit on them if had the chance.

> 99% of the police are some of the best people you will ever meet

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.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/07/what-polic...


Well they got a court decision for them that says they have no duty to protect it serve except in the most nebulous sense of some duty "at large" that doesn't actually mean anything.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_v._District_of_Columb....


> Way to go turning the whole of the police force into a bunch of racist bigots.

If the shoe fits.


> The purpose of qualified immunity is to permit officials to carry out their discretionary duties without fear of personal liability or harassing litigation.

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.


Instead of creating yet another special case for government officials, the solution for the US problem is to go and take some ideas from Europe. In Germany, all costs associated with a lawsuit have to be paid/reimbursed by the losing party. This quickly solves the "I know I won't win, but lets ruin the other guy" problem.

Well, the German legal system is actually different in a bunch of ways:

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.


I am interested in how the no precedent thing works. Doesn't it have potential to make things widely inconsistent?

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).


Higher courts can make fundamental decisions which are binding for other courts; however these are not precedent as they only clarify how the law is to be interpreted in general.

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.


It's too bad the US is too hard headed to adopt some of these practices.

You're absolutely right! The US is pretty hard-headed on any number of subjects, reasonable or otherwise. A lot of these are great ideas.

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.


I don't think it is just being hard headed. I don't know of a practical non-disruptive way to change the basis of the US legal system away from common law.

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


That's pretty much what I mean by hard headed, no one is willing to consider change. Not an individual, just the people that create laws and policies.

Yeah no kidding. Common law is perhaps at the heart of how rich Americans understand the state. And then the overrepresentation of lawyers in legislatures just makes this worse. Either way, this stuff is completely sacrosanct for no good reason.

>this stuff is completely sacrosanct for no good reason.

Evolved law systems, like common law, do have some elegance that most people tend to overlook. Here's one article I found very interesting:

http://www.law.nyu.edu/sites/default/files/ECM_PRO_060886.pd...


This rule change makes it potentially very expensive to sue large corporations. They are already more likely to win because they can afford larger, better resourced legal teams. Now the little guy also needs to pay for that legal team when they lose? You might see most people opting not to sue Comcast, McDonalds, Amazon to avoid being financially ruined.

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.


It's not black and white. If the court takes the case in Europe, it probably has some merit. If the little guy then loses, the court will then often decide it needed to be tried and both parties will cover their own expenses.

Your right.. People generally don't sue as much here in northern europe(only know the rules are like op described in Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweeden, might be the same for all of europe) in fear of loosing, but i for one prefer it this way, much less lawsuits flying around. And also it goes both ways, as the little guy you are also less likely to be sued.

And let's be real, how often do a normal person sue big corps like the ones you mention and actually win ?


It is already difficult to sue large corporations in general: In other words, there is no change. People already decide not to sue many companies so they aren't financially ruined.

Obviously, the discretion of the courts hasn't been consistent nor has it always been fair. Hence, rules.


There are additional rules that lock how much lawyers can cost per case, based on "case value", to limit megacorp lawyers to set up fantasy fees.

That is already how it works in US civil litigation.

No it's not. Both because courts don't always give you costs, and because even when they do award costs, actually collecting is tough, and finally, because courts don't always award the full amount of your costs.

Source: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/attorney-fees-does-l...

"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.


I have an outstanding judgment for over $100k against a home builder that my lawyer told me I have about a 1% chance of ever collecting on. This isn’t even a situation where I can file a lien; the company is out of business because of their shoddy business practices and the former owners are broke.

Meanwhile I had to pay my lawyer. I would have been better off doing nothing, and in hindsight I would not pursue the case.


This is a fairly common pattern among home builders. Start John's Construction, make some money, live the high life for a few years, homes start to show signs of issues, go bankrupt, then start Jon's Construction and begin the process over again.

That’s why I just went ahead and fixed the issues my house had — I assumed any other new home would have similar issues, and I couldn’t sell the place without remediating them anyway. I had expected to recoup at least some of the cost though.

Costs and fees are completely different.

You are over complicating the issue and misunderstanding it. Quite simply the loser of a law suit typically bears the costs of court fees and legal expenses for both parties unless a different arrangement is negotiated. How high those expenses are are irrelevant to this issue and are generally not known before or during trial.

I have sued someone in the US and had this discussion with my lawyers. What you are saying simply is not true in the US. It's such a well known feature of the US legal system that it's even called "American Rule": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_rule_(attorney%27s_fe...

Did your attorneys discuss fees with the opposing party prior to the suit? If not that’s why. This is common practice. It’s also why Google sent Oracle an extremely large legal bill when Oracle lost its first lawsuit over Java APIs.

You replied to:

> In Germany, all costs associated with a lawsuit have to be paid/reimbursed by the losing party.

with:

> 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.


Civil suits are optional. Discussions between parties in civil suits are mostly optional. The only thing about that isn't optional are the procedures and a final ruling on the matter. In most cases of civil suits the lawyers negotiate the expenditures going in. This is why many plaintiff lawyers won't accept every case that comes their way.

Nonsensical as it might be, "costs" does not mean net expenditures, but rather costs associated with filing fees, document production, etc. The loser may well pay "costs," but attorney time, which is by far the biggest expenditure in a lawsuit, is not included.

Note that in my comment, when I said "costs" I was referring to the loose layman definition, not the legal definition. Depending on the circumstances if you are awarded anything, it could be for the costs you refer to, attorney fees, both, or some other mixture (it's particularly frequent to see judges award less than what attorneys charged on the basis that you overpaid).

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.


It absolutely isn’t. The loser pays system is extremely uncommon in American civil practice.

Sure but then you create a new problem, which is that there much less of an incentive to settle.

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.


> The purpose of qualified immunity is to permit officials to carry out their discretionary duties without fear of personal liability or harassing litigation.

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.


Yes, but certain groups of people who's job it is to confront people in the public are the recipients of orders of magnitude more complaints than the average individual.

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.


> who's job it is to confront people in the public

You mean bouncers, train conductors, cabin crew members and hotel receptionists?


If you are a private security agent for a mall what's the difference with a cop patrolling a mall?

In sectors where private compete with public that's very difficult to understand why people should be regulated by different laws.


People doing their jobs and receive training should be personally immune from legal liability. That liability should be held by their employer.

...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.


> People doing their jobs and receive training should be personally immune from legal liability. That liability should be held by their employer.

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.


The problem comes when the people doing their jobs are also abusing their power for personal gain or vendetta and can’t be punished.

Did you even read the bill? That is exactly what it does

> 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 think it's more about finding the right middle ground than anything else. So expanding is good if people are still responsible in a way.

I agree that a lot of time the institution are liable (mostly for ordering people to achieve impossible target).


"... significant burden on [rogue govt] defendants ..."

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?


Assuming these cases have no merit, most of that burden is needing to pay for legal representation and spend time dealing with it. In general we'd be better off if the justice system were reformed to reduce these damages for everyone. In the meantime, employer (government) policies can straightforwardly handle both of these, without needing to undermine the justice system by creating a privileged group of people.

Sure it does. I don’t want paramedics prematurely giving up on saving peoples lives because there is fear of a lawsuit.

Software developers don’t have this fear, so we get to kill people through releasing buggy bloated applications without any fear of personal liability.


> Software developers don’t have this fear

We should. A software engineer was one of a handful of people sentenced in the Volkswagen emissions scandal.


It was fraud, and submission of false documents to further their conspiracy. There was code involved, to further the fraud. Not a hapless software dev.

Correct, and the push for accountability in police work isn't about punishing hapless officers. It's about creating some mechanism by which offenders like Chauvin can effectively be sanctioned in civil courts.

Pure nonsense. Cite these cases where software engineers have built a decades-long track record of abusing power and murdering innocents under the guise of civil service and directly abusing qualified immunity to get away with it. Or maybe tone things down.

Perhaps that is data people should be tracking but aren't, which doesn't indicate an absence of such concerns.

You can't even do that for civil servants though. The actual number of "encounters gone wrong" vs total encounters is vanishingly small.

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.


I think you're underestimating the problem by limiting it to unarmed black men killed by police. There's a lot that a police force can do besides killing people. There's profiling and unlawful arrests and prosecution, cruel and unusual punishments in prisons and jails, along with general harassment. You should look at the results of DOJ investigations into the Ferguson and Baltimore police departments, they are absolutely scathing. In the Baltimore police department, there were incidents in which they arrested people just hanging out on a street corner for no reason (when they told their lieutenant they didn't have a valid reason to arrest them they were told "just make something up") in front of the DOJ investigators! I'd also recommend the book "Just Mercy" for examples of the horrors of malicious prosecution. Just one egregious example from that book: a mentally disabled woman was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of her child. The problem? The woman never had a child, and was in fact infertile!

Justice isn't based on probabilities, but rather addressing every single crime. If I were to come up with a novel way of committing murder, that doesn't mean I can carry it out and expect to be ignored because such events are rare. Every time a uniform wearing criminal escapes justice due to corruption is its own injustice, regardless of how uncommon it is when compared with all police interactions.

> the number of unarmed black men killed by police is somewhere between bear attacks and babies drowning in buckets in terms of annual deaths.

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


Qualified immunity was made up by courts, their legislating from the bench should have no merit, and therefore revoking qualified immunity is the right thing to do under checks and balances.

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.


> There is no excuse for enforcers of law to not know 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?


> Qualified immunity was made up by courts

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.


> 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.


If it's how the system is supposed to work, it's strange that members of the supreme court have complained about the lack of legal basis.

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.


> The first amendment for example doesn't have an explicit "yelling fire in a movie theatre" exemption

Always remember that this was an argument to imprison people for passing out flyers opposing the WWI military draft.


> was made up by courts

That's hardly unusual in a common law system..


Yeah but indefinitely precedent goes way beyond its intended purpose in achieving consistency. Especially when we have legislatures that rather not weigh on in issues whenever possible because they are worried about attack ads.

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.


You're not including the reasons why qualified immunity is bad though, is this a "devil's advocate" post?

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.


Qualified immunity does not allow assault or murder.

Well it does protect your from civil penalties for law and murder

Not in the case of criminal law violations. Civil suits should not be used as a blunt weapon to end run criminal complaints only because they set the bar lower. This is antithetical to tort reform.

Most police officers don't get murder charges anyway. Civil court exist for something. Saying that people should sue criminal instead of civil is up to the victim team not you.

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.


> Civil court exist for something.

Sure, but that something isn't criminal law.


What you are saying is factually wrong. If I can sue a mall security for something. I should be able to sue a police officer for the same. The job of the defendant doesn't change the status of the charge/request. Most public servant don't work as a spy imbedded in Russia.

Your logic doesn't make any sense. You can sue for absolutely anything, but that doesn't mean a judge is willing to hear your case or that it is grounded upon any law.

It allows for harassment, though, and for folks to arrest people willy-nilly. And as the other person said, you are never really responsible for the assault or murder like you would be if you were a private person.

Qualified immunity does not shield police from wrongful detention or arrest. An arrest must be valid according to a given charge and evidence even if those do not survive to trial.

In practice, it does.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/they-get-a-get-out-of-jail...

> “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.”


Those are both irrelevant to the issue at hand: wrongful arrest. Wrongful arrest occurs when either the incorrect person is detained or when a person is detained without merit.

In order for police to detain people they need to place them under arrest, which includes Maranda warnings, or have a signed warrant.


> In order for police to detain people they need to place them under arrest

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.

https://www.halt.org/am-i-being-detained-6-questions-you-sho...


> That is not true. Police can detain you for some period of time without placing you under arrest.

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.


There are a number of reasons they can detain you without arresting you. For example, you can be detained because you refused to let the police search your car for drugs and they make you wait while they get a warrant. Similar situations can happen in residences, and a traffic ticket is detaining without arrest.

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.


> For example, you can be detained because you refused to let the police search your car for drugs and they make you wait while they get a warrant.

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.


No, it's not.

A traffic stop is a temporary detention without an arrest. You are not free to leave.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_stop


The most important word in that entire Wikipedia article is brief. The stop requires probably cause and must not exceed the minimum time necessary to inform dispatch, issue a citation, and perform a basic warrant search on their computer. Signing a citation provides a written promise to appear in court so that police do not have to arrest you and is not an admission of guilt. Refusal to sign is grounds for arrest. Either way police cannot reasonably communicate to you from another moving vehicle, which is the primary basis of such a stop, not a detainment pending other inquiries.

It shields them from civil liability for wrongful arrest, as the courts will apparently go "there's no established law that you can't arrest someone for no good reason on Thursday at 9:53pm on Third Street".

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 not an arrest. An indictment comes from a district attorney while an arrest comes from police. The two don't even have to be associated with each other as a person can be indicted before they are arrested, or vise versa.

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.


The point: there aren't gonna be criminal consequences for a bad cop who made a wrongful arrest if it never goes to trial.

QI shields them from civil suits, so they're quite well protected on both fronts.


Even more to the point is that there is a readily identifiable problem. It is better to put energy towards fixing the problem than apply a really shit work around with horrible second and third order sequences only for the point of doing what you couldn't do the correct way.

Police absolutely do not have to read your Miranda rights in order to arrest you -- they only need to read your rights if they plan to question you with regards to a criminal investigation and they would like to use your statements as evidence in a court of law.

> 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.

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!


It's undemocratic, because unless all lawyers are great and free for all, this path is a matter of money. Now, you may have bought into the libertarian marketing of freedom without democracy, after all so many Americans have, but there are extremely good reasons for why this is problematic, which are actually not that difficult to cobble together with some spare time.

Pay (a lawyer) to play is a heck of a lot more democratic than the current system where if you're given crap service at the discretion of the government (as opposed to the bureaucrats doing their job wrong) you need to find a string you can pull to go over the head of whatever bureaucrat screwed you. Money for a lawyer isn't perfect but it is far more accessible to a far broader cross section of the population than the connections required to go around a bureaucrat who has screwed you at their discretion. Furthermore, organizations that screw a lot of people tend to circle the wagons so if you're screwed by the cops knowing a guy who golfs with the chief might not help you, you need to know a guy who golfs with the guy the chief reports to (ditto for the planning department or whatever).

You're probably posting under a throwaway for a reason, but let me just say that none of what you say is in favor of your solution: improving the quality of the democracy you live in would be. Money by definition is not far more accessible to a far broader cross section of the population, your vote is. The problem with requiring connections to go around a bureaucrat who has screwed you at their discretion is that your version of democracy is flawed, you must move it away from that clientellist mode towards something where your vote and procedures are effective.

> Money by definition is not far more accessible to a far broader cross section of the population

Many lawyers will work on contingency, so it kind of is much more accessible.


Please try to stay civil.

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!


Nothing the parent said was uncivil. (I say this having largely agreed with your original comment.)

Thank you for weighing in, genuinely. I could have misread tone, I’m sorry to brnt if I did. I perceived it as uncivil because it seemed to veer into identity politics, and to belittle my opinions as “not that difficult” to see the error in.

I know critiques of political movements are painted as identity politics, but the opposite is true. Being able to discuss the merits of something like the precise role of the courts should be possible amongst people that abhor the politics of politics.

I was not aware I was uncivil, certainly didn't mean to.

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.


>I was not aware I was uncivil, certainly didn't mean to.

You were not being uncivil.


> 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.

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.


Nowhere did I bring up different laws for difference classes. What I was addressing was that the courts are perhaps not the way one should be supposed to handle the liability of persons in the government. How it should work is that we make and hold elected officials accountable through a functioning democratic process.

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 [1]: 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.

[1] 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...


Other countries don't have a problem with officials getting sued. In the UK there doesn't even seem to be a problem with employees getting sued; cases always seem to end up being against the employer. So why does only the US need "qualified immunity"? (That's a real question, not a rhetorical one.)

UK lawsuits seem to be much rarer, but in this notorious case the lawsuit was against the police as an organization rather than the individuals involved: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/oct/07/met-police-p...

(our own comparable issue is probably Northern Ireland, and the still-outstanding litigation around Bloody Sunday and "Soldier F" etc)


You always sue the people with money. In the US the employer is always the one sued by default. Individuals only really get sued when the individual's actions are so squarely of their own doing that the employer can't possibly be held responsible.

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.


Sweden basically has qualified immunity for all employees (our law is a bit different but offers almost as strong protections). So, no, I do not think the US is the only country which needs qualified immunity.

Well in the US. That's only for public official, not for your average Joe. So if you are a security you can be sued. And actually the two security guard that didn't help the older asian lady were fired(in NY). For doing nothing. Meanwhile a cop could not be sued for the same thing...

> The purpose of qualified immunity is to permit officials to carry out their discretionary duties without fear of personal liability or harassing litigation.

> 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.


Wait, are you sure? If someone is acting as an agent of an entity then the entity is who you sue

I am definitely not a lawyer or even good at "law" but that would just be insane if the truth is otherwise


The problem is that then when a police officer breaks the law and harms you, and you later sue them, the taxpayers end up paying the settlement due to the fact that you have to sue the whole department rather than the criminal themselves. There are no consequences, criminal or civil, for the person who actually broke the law.

New York City taxpayers pay $300M a year or so (IIRC) paying out civil judgements against the exceptionally violent NYPD.


How is that a problem? It was after all the tax payers who voted for politicians who are in favor of violent policing.

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 was after all the tax payers who voted for politicians who are in favor of violent policing.

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.


The problem is that the violent criminal suffers no consequences whatsoever.

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.


You say "sue the inspector" like it's obviously a bad thing. If the inspector used their special government appointed powers to intentionally or negligently screw you over, they should be sued. Prohibiting individuals from being sued created two perverse incentives:

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.


"without fear of personal liability"

You see no issue with that, seriously?


To be clear: qualified immunity is about civil liability. It doesn’t protect from criminal liability. Qualified immunity isn’t the reason cops don’t go to jail for murder, because it doesn’t apply at all for criminal procedures

That would be fine if it were possible to criminally prosecute the cops.

But it isn't; only the government can do that, and they don't want to.


They are doing it right now.

I don't know. There is a long history of cops being "prosecuted" in court theater and being found not guilty. This is generally only in high-profile cases. It is still fairly common to simply suspend an officer or "fire" them, allowing them to get a job in another department. So common that when we investigate folks in the high-profile cases, a history of misconduct isn't a surprise.

This is an extremely rare event.

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?


However, a civilian cannot normally press criminal charges against a cop, so the distinction is moot in practice.

That’s interesting. I thought it gave immunity against criminal prosecution if the officer «accidentally» did something criminal.

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.


> You see no issue with that, seriously?

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.)


To expand on just how absurdly narrow courts interpret "clearly established", there's this example from the wikipedia page on qualified immunity[1] for eg.

> 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.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qualified_immunity


Even better is the police who just stole stuff, because there was no "clearly established" law against stealing stuff:

https://newrepublic.com/article/157342/supreme-court-police-...


> Qualified immunity isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card.

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.


> No, its not.

There is no qualified immunity protection upon the conviction of a criminal act regardless of how narrow or broad underlying factors are.


You seem to have confused a true statement (qualified immunity is about torts, not crimes) with a false one (if there was a crime, then there can't be any qualified immunity claim in a corresponding civil case).

You have to be convicted first. Police don't even get indicted.

That’s what you have friendly prosecutors for.

And then they will need to buy private liability insurance, and bad cops will get their rates hiked until they can't afford to keep being cops, instead of just getting transferred to a new district to offend again.

> Sue the planning commission members individually.

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.


makes a lot of sense to me. if you sue someone for "bad ratings" as you mentioned, you likely have no case and incur court expanses, including penalty for wasting time... but at least you have that option for when you really have a case.

Should we apply that logic to the private sector as well?

Make all employees have qualified immunity, can't be sued for things you did while working, what could go wrong?


Qualified immunity for police officers includes immunity from criminal prosecution and is extremely different from the civil liability you are talking about.

Since other countries get by just fine without qualified immunity, one has to wonder what real-world calamity such a doctrine is defending against?

In India also I can't sue officer, but officers will gladly use their powered to harass the F out of your life.

Isn't qualified immunity applies only to police? If not, then 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.

> Isn't qualified immunity applies only to police

No.

> 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.


> 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

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.)

(Edited.)


> There is a lot of grey area in qualified immunity

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.


> Nope, not really

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.


> There is a lot of grey area in qualified immunity.

Not particularly.

> 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”.)


> Not particularly

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.)


> because they are required to

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.


> 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.

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.


That’s not the type of scenario that people have in mind when they’re talking about the systemic failure of qualified immunity — in a functional court system, such a case would shake out naturally (either a non-punishable offense or involuntary manslaughter, depending on context, as after all, an innocent person was killed), while still allowing crimes such as manufacturing evidence or reckless negligence or murder to go punished.

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 government cannot act, it has no mass. Only human beings can act.

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.


If gun possession is legal, then it should not be ok to kill an innocent person just because they possess a gun.

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.


For what it's worth, while New Mexico's law covers all governmental bodies, Colorado passed a law last June that only banned qualified immunity for law enforcement [1]. The city of New York also recently did so for NYPD officers [2].

[1] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-minneapolis-police-colora...

[2] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nyc-qualified-immunity-police-m...


If true that’s more to the point. The deal is that you work for the police, govt gives you some discretion and power to act on their behalf.

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


Excuse me but how are "officials" special here? By that logic any job should have these protections.

They don't for obvious reasons. If people need protection from certain laws, then write that in the specific laws.


In Sweden all employees have these protections and I feel our system works mostly fine. The employer is by default on the hook for all damages caused by employees. There are of course some exceptions like gross negligence, but in general all employees have qualified immunity here.

[flagged]


That is an unfair caricature of Republican. Who in turn make an unfair caricature of civil servants.

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.


It often is bad and incompetent. Take one of the most left leaning cities in the USA, San Francisco. Not sure there is any metric where by it can be claimed they not bad and incompetent.

So a police offer that kills someone will at worst be fired?

Civil liability is not the same as criminal charges.

Thanks, I didn’t know it only applied to civil charges. “ civil suits are the only means by which individuals or their families can get compensation for the violation of their constitutional or civil rights. And, in practice, civil lawsuits are often the only means to seek justice at all because prosecutors—themselves government workers—are typically reluctant to bring criminal charges against their government colleagues, especially police officers who are crucial to the work prosecutors do on a daily basis.”

>> It applies to all parts of government.

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.


I understand the arguments that "QI has reasonable goals in theory", but it is time to throw the baby out with the bathwater. If cops didn't want to lose QI, they should have held themselves to account for the last few decades. Maybe the unions should have spoken up when cops steal tens of thousands of dollars in cash from a suspect, and get away with it due to QI.

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.


How is it legal to vote to disband a union? Could you vote to disband the Screen Actors Guild?

Short version: Texas state law establishes the right for cities to decide whether their police can engage in collective bargaining.

https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/LG/htm/LG.174.htm


The same way you change any other service provider. You find another vendor or renegotiate. The people will vote to instruct their officials to do so. Pretty straightforward.


Stop with the anti-union FUD. The worst civil forfeiture abuses are in states where the law enforcement aren't unionized.

Tell me how that correlation is a causation.

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.


I agree that police unions can be problematic when it comes to disciplining bad cops.

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.


NYC has two police "unions" which openly and loudly protest against police reform, defend officers who commit civil rights abuses, and are really more like PR and lobbying organizations than good-faith collective bargaining apparatus for organized labor.

And I am assuming you don't have any credible data to back that claim up?

https://reason.com/2015/06/09/this-map-details-whether-asset...

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.


Your argument doesn't rebut mine.

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.


You're the one making the causal claim that unions are responsible for this. You need to prove your claim; I've already provided evidence that would refute the argument you would make.

Do you have any evidence for your claim?

From the outside, the US has big issues with race, poverty, mental health and access to firearms. That makes policing very difficult and pushes towards a "shoot first" approach.

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...


> 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.

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.


Apparently the mechanisms to address mental health were largely disbanded in the 80s. Oddly this is when many financial oversights and regulations were also undone. It’s like Not A gets established, the ramifications are obviously bad, but A is never re-established.

I'm always surprised there isn't more push for mental health provision in the US. Everyone who loves guns and everyone who is anti mass-shooting should like that, and that's a lot of voters...

> Everyone who loves guns and everyone who is anti mass-shooting should like that, and that's a lot of voters...

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.


Since it's a USA-specific term and not very self-explanatory (I thought this was a COVID-related thing because it contains 'immunity', but it's not):

> 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".

-- Wikipedia


Forget qualified immunity and civil liability. Why are police not being held criminally responsible for criminal acts? I am far more concerned about that.

The existence of one problem doesn't preclude the existence of others. Both are problematic. The law being used to sue police officers - the Ku Klux Klan Act - came into being because the Federal Congress recognized that in certain states of the Union, police officers (and other public officers) were taking actions against the public that would never be prosecuted as crimes in those states, yet were egregious and in want of a remedy. The situation is not so different today.

I think that the Game theory suggests that cops will be less inclined to show up to a call or do anything to fight crime, because it could bring too much legal responsibility.

Eat donuts, ignore the radio and you will be fine.


"Cops violate citizens rights, but if we stop them their feelings might get hurt and then they might willfully stop doing their jobs, can't you see that cops are the good guys" isn't exactly the slam dunk defense you think it is.

Neither is a blanket statement like "cops violate citizen rights". The way to fix these issues is not to make it so the good ones are scared of helping people due to possible litigation. That's just silly.

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.


Game theory is an abstract mathematical model. Citing mathematical models is not science: science requires experiment to verify whether your model holds up in practice.

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).


Are police in other countries without qualified immunity more or less likely to be sued? Your argument ignores the rather important consideration of civil litigation frequency, which is a question of torts not policing.

If you find a single instance of a nation where the police functions well without qualified immunity, you can at least conclude that it's not a necessary condition for police to be able to operate well.

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.


I’m not sure that’s the right question.

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.


"If we hold them accountable for the actions they take at their jobs jobs, they'll stop doing their jobs altogether"

Wtf kind of logic is this?


the cops who worry about this are the ones we don't want to be cops. Its like my male friends who complained about the MeToo movement "how will i date when i have to worry about consent" - uh shouldn't you already be confident theres consent before doing anything? lol

The fact that you have multiple men in your life saying this might be an indication of some of the difficulties men face. I'm making an assumption here that you chose good men to be your friends. Either you're picking sex offenders as friends or men have a difficult situation to navigate when dating?

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 - [1] 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.

[1] - https://www.reddit.com/r/unpopularopinion/comments/alxofq/me...


I think their is also a disconnect between how it actually functions in the world and what is discussed on places like Twitter which then get turned into clickbaity articles which that friend might see. He might not have actually encountered it in real life.

Not true. Anyone who joins a job like that is going to want strong protections whether they use them or not. Why would I work for department X where if I make a mistake I can be ruined when department Y will trust that by going thru the process to become LE, in general I’m not looking to be a corrupt maniac. Not to mention those same depts will let me keep an AR in my trunk, send an MRAP to cover me when I am going into a sketchy situations

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.


> Anyone who joins a job like that is going to want strong protections whether they use them or not.

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?


According to psychologists, there is a personality trait called neuroticism. Neurotic people worry about everything. They worry about getting sued. But they also worry about whether they look fat in these clothes, whether they will forget their uncles birthday, 5g radiation, microplastic partles in the air and whether the guy on the ground is dying or not.

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.


> cops will be less inclined to show up to a call or do anything to fight crime, because it could bring too much legal responsibility

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.


[flagged]


> usual day-to-day interactions are not nice

This describes a lot of jobs. Statistically, police work is less fatal than roofing, truck driving, garbage collecting and farming [1]. 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 [2]. Most of this is due to police having been thanklessly given, fairly recently, the job of dealing with our mentally ill [3].

> 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.

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-06-23/how-da...

[2] https://d1wqtxts1xzle7.cloudfront.net/36600547/Terrill_Polic...

[3] https://www.researchgate.net/profile/William-Terrill/publica...


It probably would be a lot more dangerous if cops weren't so risk averse.

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.


> You will have to use violence, because nice obedient people don’t cause trouble. People that cops are called on will likely fight and resist and you will have a high chance of breaking someone’s bones (or kill someone).

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.


> Police pay is high

Lol what?


Police earn more than teachers, and the median income in America.

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:

source: https://www.businessinsider.com/teacher-salary-in-every-stat...

- 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."

Source: https://www.fool.com/the-ascent/research/average-us-income/


> Police earn more than teachers

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!’

Baffles me.


> Have you considered maybe teachers are poorly paid, rather than police are highly paid?

Both can be true at the same time.


That might actually be a win overall...

I invite you to peaceful evening walk through Venice Beach, CA.

Just did it a few weeks ago. Thousands of people, never felt unsafe, and saw zero cops.

Your point?


Except that it’s their job to do so. It’s relatively trivial to check what a police officer is doing if the department cares.

Doctors can be sued for malpractice yet they still perform operations.


But cost of healthcare is astronomical in part because malpractice insurance is expensive, because too many people abuse it.

If we increase (already high) risk of being a cop, then we will have to be ready to pay 200k-300k salaries.


> But cost of healthcare is astronomical in part because malpractice insurance is expensive, because too many people abuse it.

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...


And some of the meaningful regulation drastically increases costs. Mostly for good reasons.

Why would that be? In countries with universal health care (which would be pretty high up on the regulation scale) costs for medical procedures are significantly lower. [0] Americans have to understand that they are drastically overpaying for almost everything medical including drugs. There is no way around it.

[0]: https://www.healthnewsreview.org/2012/03/comparing-health-ca...


Oh yes, but it's pretty different when you're regulating interactions between complex network of private entities, and just telling state health fun to cover some procedure.

What about the city/county where a few issues causes insurance to not want to touch the place? All of a sudden they can't hire enough police and this causes social issues.

It's unfortunately not required that they do their jobs. This is established case law - in Castle Rock vs Gonzales.

Sure they may not be legally obligated but it's still their job. People perform non-governmental dangerous jobs without being legally obligated to do so.

The department can still fire an officer (assuming no union intervention) for failing to do their job, even if they can't be sued.


Why would you assume no union intervention?

Eat donuts, ignore the radio and get fired. That is how it should be.

Make it so that they have a genuine public duty requirement by reversing warren vs DC and suddenly we can prosecute cops for not showing up if we can prove that they intentionally lollygagged.

Somehow that game theory doesn't seem to apply to most jobs, so maybe your model is overly simplistic to the point of being useless.

Stop name-dropping "Game theory" into everything. Life is more complex.

More complex for individual actions, but quite good at predicting behavior on average.

You can't predict something you can't explain by just pretending there's something to average. Game theory has it's uses, but this is just absurd.

In practice police are almost entirely legally invulnerable. QI is part of that, and needs to go.

The issue isn't QI in and of itself -- as others have said, it serves a useful purpose in protecting the personal liability of government agents acting out their official duties, which can be reasonable (one example was that a planning board member shouldn't face personal liability for denying a proposal). In my mind, there are two issues (one direct, one indirect) with QI and policing specifically:

- 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.


I never realized that we referred to citizens of New Mexico as New Mexicans. It makes sense, I don't know what else you'd call them, but it was confusing to see that for the first time.

I thought that because QI was defended by the SCOTUS, that even if a state doesn't have QI at all, a police officer or department sued for malpractice could still appeal to the SCOTUS and then eventually win?

It's more complicated at the federal level, but in this case the bill abolishes qualified immunity when suing New Mexico officials in New Mexico courts for violations of New Mexico law. Presumably New Mexico courts adopted the federal concept of qualified immunity at some point. See https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/21%20Regular/bills/house/HB...

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.


I can't imagine anyone arguing against Miranda rights, the right to appointed council when you can't afford one, etc. Can you think of a single good reason these shouldn't exist?

Whichever rather liberal supreme court that was let's get them back ASAP!


I think they make sense, but they're definitely not explicitly or even implicitly granted in the U.S. constitution, and the various legal theories (e.g. substantive due process) behind the court's power to recognize them are still vilified by conservative jurists and pundits.

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.


Many Miranda rights are _expressly_ granted by the Constitution. For example, the right to remain silent is clearly delineated in the Fifth Amendment [0], without the need for substantive due process.

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.

[0] "nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself"


I think he meant to say that the constitution doesn't say anything about having a right to be notified about those rights when you are arrested. What could be understood to be "Miranda" rights have a very clear constitutional basis and were not established by the supreme Court, as you said... but I think the term refers more to the Miranda warning that the police has to give to suspects in custody.

Isn't it more accurately called 'Miranda warning'? The point is, there are no new rights being granted, the notification is merely informing someone of their existing rights. The fifth amendment was ratified back in 1791.

Fair point. I meant right to a Miranda warning. Though the Warren court also firmed up and expanded some of the underlying rights.

Lower courts would likely have to follow the SCOTUS ruling on it, but it could be argued up to the supreme court to overturn their own creation.

This is the problem with creating new rules out of whole-cloth from the bench.


Lower federal courts have no say. It's a state matter up to the supreme court of NM, and then maybe SCOTUS.

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.


We'll see. Part of the Catch-22 of QI is that if it hasn't gone to trial it doesn't exist, so it doesn't go to trial. Let's see if this WinAmp's Box can be bashed open.

"WinAmp's Box"

Don't! If you bash it open, llamas will flood the world and whip everybody's ass in retaliation!


Supreme court rulings are always connected to the law at the time of the ruling. If a law changes (at the state, federal, or constitutional level) that can change how the supreme court will rule. The state probably couldn't invalidate QI for federal officers, but for state officers, why not?

End qualified immunity couple with increased pay and benefits and more psych training and DEI training before hitting the ground.

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"


https://www.cbsnews.com/news/police-training-weeks-united-st...

> 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.


IMHO, the US is heading down a dangerous path as regards things like this. One case I'm really looking at is this one that will be decided by SCOTUS by June 2021:

https://www.jurist.org/news/2021/03/us-supreme-court-hears-a...


> recover damages from the government when their constitutional rights are violated

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)


Only in a very limited capacity, I guess. IMO the important result of this legislation is that it helps align the incentives of the police department with that of the public they are supposed to serve. 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. Asset forfeiture is another police policy which places the interests of the police at odds with that of the public. In many places the assets claimed by asset forfeiture can be used to directly fund the department's budget and there is no need to charge anyone of a crime to do so.

How does spending a greater amount of other people's money incentivize a police department or any other public body?

They already hypothesized one possibility in their comment:

> 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.


One proposed tactic has been that either cops need to hold individual "malpractice" insurance (like doctors) or that settlements need to come out of the union retirement fund.


> cops need to hold individual "malpractice" insurance (like doctors) or that settlements need to come out of the union retirement fund

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.


But underwriters don't necessarily need to insure every officer, and not every officer will be insured the same. If they are deemed too risky, it doesn't matter if the union is backing their premiums or not -- if they don't have insurance, they can't work (or can't do fieldwork or something).

The union could adopt an "all or none" policy with the insurance company, and then if an individual officer is barred by the insurer, the union will be telling all officers (and management) "sorry, insurance won't cover us, can't come in to work until it is sorted."

> underwriters don't necessarily need to insure every officer, and not every officer will be insured the same

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.


Yes. Talk to your local representatives

Step #1 is get rid of cop unions. They look out for the worst of the worst, and prevent anything from improving.

getting rid of unions is also a problem, maybe limit the powers of public service unions.

They are allowed to work for pension increase, wages, vacation time, but not allowed to touch disciplinary situations?


Police unions are much worse than other public unions. If other public unions take illegal action, the police can arrest them. When the police union does something illegal, no one is going to do anything about it.

as a normal rule the illegal actions I associate with unions are stuff like leadership skimming from the pension funds which would probably get them arrested.

the negative actions I associate with police unions is stepping in to protect corrupt or violent cops from disciplinary actions / firing / arrest.


> When the police union does something illegal, no one is going to do anything about it.

Cant the Feds step in?


Unions in public service are allowed to create de-facto rules and policies that would otherwise get lawmakers voted out or initiatives voted down.

MUNI is a dysfunctional mess because the Union has the power to shut down a public service if their every demand isn't met.


Don't vote for mayor/governor candidates that glorify the police.

Choose ones who want to divert paramilitary funding to other social safety net services.


Become mayor or governor.

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