By Elizabeth Garabedian
WASHINGTON- A number of prominent civil rights organizations have sent a letter to Senate negotiators concerning police officer qualified immunity.
They fear current Senate legislation may lead to “less police accountability, not more.”
Certain parties in the Senate negotiations are looking to pass a bill that would include qualified immunity. Civil rights groups are opposed, because, in California and other states now, individual law enforcement officers would not be held liable for their actions but rather the agencies they work for.
Civil rights organizations worry about the effects that a Senate bill like this could have on individuals’ rights, and how this legislation could adversely affect victims of police misconduct.
Udi Ofer, director of the ACLU’s Justice Division, stated that there is the “opportunity to create strong police accountability, yet we have serious concerns about the current path of negotiations.” That is why they are calling for increased regulations and restrictions on police officers, hoping to bring an end to incidents of violence.
In 2020, in the wake of the summer protests, the House passed legislation that ended qualified immunity for law enforcement as protestors sought justice for victims of misconduct. The Justice in Policing Act provided reforms in certain areas of policing including use of force standards, which civil rights groups hope to have reaffirmed in new legislation.
Civil rights organizations are urging the Senate to make a decision that will not stagnate the progress that has been made concerning police accountability over the last year.
Ofer added, “A meaningful bill would include provisions to not only hold police accountable, but also to rein in police use of force. We are worried that the current path of negotiations may actually lead to less police accountability, not more.”