Dr. Rashad Richey

National TV Political Analyst, Talk Radio Host, Univ. Prof.

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Opinion

To reform police, end qualified immunity

Jun 7

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Dr. Rashad Richey

National TV Political Analyst, Talk Radio Host, Univ. Prof.

Share

Public debates on police reform have often tackled the issue of qualified immunity, a policy that protects police officers from lawsuits filed by victims or citizens. A recent ruling in Mississippi even raised concerns that this policy of qualified immunity might be unconstitutional.

Watch the video above as Straight Arrow News contributor Dr. Rashad Richey explores some of the arguments against qualified immunity and dismantles one of the major arguments in favor of the policy.


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The following is an excerpt of the above video:

But the reality is, this has never been rooted in law. Guess what? A federal judge from the Mississippi circuit has just said the exact same thing I’ve been saying for years: There is no basis for qualified immunity in law. It is not constitutional. As a matter of fact, it is adverse to [the] Constitution. When you look at the actual rulings that have been predicated on other rulings, we call that case law. But see, courts are not supposed to make policy. They’re supposed to enforce the policies or laws that are already established.

So here we are. You know, the vast majority of Americans, Democrats, Republicans and independents actually agree on one thing, that police reform police reform is necessary. Over 90% of Americans believe that police reform should happen on some level, even though those levels may vary. But the vast majority of individuals, Democrats and Republicans, they believe that we need to relook at this element called qualified immunity.

And many times, politicians who still support this adversarial policy will say the reason cops need qualified immunity is because they have a dangerous job. And due to the fact they have a dangerous job, people will sue them. People will make frivolous accusations against them. Really? Well, let’s talk about the dangerous job aspect, because according to data, the most dangerous job in America is being a logger. It’s more dangerous being a miner. It’s more dangerous being a roofer, than being a cop. That’s according to data and statistics.

Okay, I want to talk to you about this legal doctrine called qualified immunity. Please understand qualified immunity is not a law. Let me say it again, qualified immunity for cops, not a law. It is a legal principle, a legal doctrine really fictional. If you look at the creation of it in the 1960s by the United States Supreme Court, it basically said that police officers who do egregious things cannot be held civilly liable for those egregious things they have done. That means they get to keep the house and the cars and the money and the assets and the pension. But the reality is, this has never been rooted in law. Guess what a federal judge from the Mississippi circuit has just said, the exact same thing I’ve been saying for years, there is no basis for qualified immunity in law, it is not constitutional, as a matter of fact, is adverse to constitution. When you look at the actual rulings that have been predicated on other rulings, we call their case law. But see, courts are not supposed to make policy. They’re supposed to enforce the policies or laws that are already established. So here we are, you know, the vast majority of Americans, Democrats, Republicans and independents actually agree on one thing that police reform police reform is necessary. Over 90% of Americans believe that police reform should happen on some level, even though those levels may vary. But the vast majority of individuals, Democrats and Republicans, they believe that we need to relook at this element called qualified immunity. And many times, politicians who still support this adversarial policy will say the reason cops need qualified immunity is because they have a dangerous job. And due to the fact they have a dangerous job, people will sue them. People will make frivolous accusations against them. Really? Well, let’s talk about the dangerous job aspect because according to data, the most dangerous job in America is being a logger is more dangerous. Being a miner is more dangerous, being a roofer than being a cop. That’s according to data and statistics. Now, outside of that context. Does, does a medical doctor have qualified immunity? If a medical doctor does something that’s adverse to the standards of practice of that profession, they get sued, and typically successfully, so if it is adverse to the standards of the profession. So why all of these protections for cops when these protections do not exist for other professionals, who are in fact held to a higher standard? You see, I have this simple notion, call me an outside of the box thinker, but I believe when you are a professional, you should have a higher standard of accountability and responsibility, not a lower one. What say you?

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