seek expensive additional personal liability insurance L a w

seek expensive additional personal liability insurance L a w

The elimination of qualified immunity for law enforcement officer will have a devastatingly adverse impact on the profession. The pursuit of eliminating this protection is extremely misguided and many of you were correct in associating it with some high profile police misconduct cases in 2020. Out of those incidents came calls for “police reform” and one of the suggested reforms was the elimination of “qualified immunity” because the perception was police officers, troopers and sheriff’s deputies could not be sued. That is a false perception all have been successfully sued along with their supervisors and localities in the past when there has been clearly established misconduct.

Qualified Immunity is a defense against frivolous lawsuits and allows agencies and localities on behalf of their employee to argue for dismissal earlier in a court process when there’s no evidence of misconduct (either by policy or criminal) by the employee. If these cases were allowed to proceed in court it would bog down the court and financially cripple those trying to defend every action by law enforcement where someone thought they had a civil claim.

Other unintended consequences will be a significant impact on staffing as many officers and deputies will seek alternative employment because of the fear and expense of frivolous lawsuits. Other officers that remain employed will be far less likely to engage in any proactive policing becoming report takers, refraining from making physical arrests or making traffic stops or investigating suspicious activity. Some will seek expensive additional personal liability insurance. Localities will have to add attorney’s to defend many more civil actions. Law enforcement organizations across the country, Chiefs and Sheriffs have all spoken out against this push to end Qualified Immunity for law enforcement. See the link to one VA Sheriff who spoke to the media about the impact of eliminating Qualified Immunity in VA. (Links to an external site.)

Please answer the following:

  1. Were you aware that almost all government employees, school employees and elected officials enjoy Qualified Immunity?
  2. Do you think if “Qualified Immunity” is eliminated for law enforcement officers should it be eliminated for all who have this protection like school teachers, firefighters and medics, mental health professionals, Mayors, County or City Managers, Judges or Prosecutors? Why or why not…
  3. If “Qualified Immunity” is eliminated for law enforcement officers in VA would that impact your decision to apply for a law enforcement job in this state or would you go another state that still had this protection for their officers and deputies?