Washington, DC – Federal lawmakers are considering a qualified immunity bill that would help shield law enforcement officers from frivolous lawsuits, according to the bill’s sponsor.
H.R. 288, sponsored by U.S. Representative Claudia Tenney (R-New York), has been dubbed the “Local Law Enforcement Protection Act,” WTVH reported.
Tenney joined up with law enforcement officers in Madison County on July 15 to talk about the proposed federal law.
“Our Law Enforcement Officers put their lives on the line every day at great personal risk. In the last year alone, police have faced unprecedented challenges like the pandemic and increasing crime,” Tenney said in a press release the same day.
“Accountability and transparency are vital, but removing qualified immunity achieves neither,” she continued. “It opens police officers to unfair and frivolous attacks simply for doing their jobs. At a time when activists and politicians in Washington are demonizing and defunding our police, I’m honored to stand with them to deliver the resources and support to keep our communities safe.”
The intention of qualified immunity is to give law enforcement officers the benefit of the doubt during incidents in which they’re forced to make split-second decisions in the middle of dangerous and potentially deadly situations, Tenney told WTVH.
Without it, officers may hesitate to take action, putting themselves and others at risk, Madison County Sheriff Todd Hood added, according to the news outlet.
“If the officers have a fear of this every time they go to do something that they’re going to get some lawsuit from just an attorney just because he wants to file it to make money or whatever, it makes us less effective and it makes the officers less effective,” Sheriff Hood explained. “This is just more legislation where they’re going after police officers. The United States Constitution holds people accountable when we violate someone’s rights.”
Under the bill, state and local governments that remove qualified immunity protections for law enforcement would be barred from applying for certain federal grants, Tenney said in the press release.
“Unfair attacks against law enforcement, like removing qualified immunity, do not increase the accountability and do not make our communities safer,” Tenney added, according to WTVH. “They are truly our heroes in our community.”
Meanwhile, the New York State Assembly is mulling a bill that would abolish qualified immunity.
“Qualified immunity only blocks victims of legitimate constitutional violations from obtaining compensation and denies them justice,” declared Assemblymember Pamela Hunter (D-Syracuse), according to WTVH.