Proposed WA Bill Would Greatly Increase Police Liability
In short, this new bill would greatly allow increased lawsuits against law enforcement.
Democrat proposed bill would eliminate qualified immunity
Qualified Immunity is, according to Supreme Court rulings dating back to the 1960's a shield that protects law enforcement officers from lawsuits or liability from certain actions taken by an officer during an interaction with a citizen.
It protects officers from civil damages as long as they do not egregiously violate a person's civil rights.
Often, it applies to the use of force. It has most commonly been utilized to protect officers in case of a potential misjudgment or other decisions made in heated, fast-moving situations where split-second decisions have had to be made.
Now, some legislators want to end the immunity. House Bill (HB) 1025 would end the practice, and allow a much greater window for suing an officer and their law enforcement agency.
Part of the bill reads as follows:
"Any person injured in person or property by a peace officer acting under color of authority has a cause of action against the peace officer, and against any other peace officer who had the power through reasonable diligence to prevent or aid in preventing the injury from occurring and failed to do so, if the peace officer engaged in conduct that is unlawful under the state Constitution or state law."
The 19 House Reps who are co-sponsoring the bill are all Democrats. According to information released by Washington State Republican Party Chairman Caleb Heimlich, via an email release January 9th:
"... Elimation of qualified immunity would serve to further erode public safety in our state and could lead to other undesirable outcomes."
According to a variety of sources, including the Washington State Police and Sheriffs' Association, violent crime went up by 12.3 percent from 2020 to 2021 after Gov. Inslee's 'police reform' package of legislation was signed into law.
KEEP READING: Scroll to see what the big headlines were the year you were born