Bad news indeed. I have written many articles about the power of police officers’ and prison guards’ unions!
Excerpts from the Article:
In the months after George Floyd’s murder, state legislators across the country tried to undo a legal doctrine that makes it virtually impossible to sue police officers for violating a person’s civil rights.
Fueled by outrage over the actions of former Minnesota officer Derek Chauvin, the efforts to eliminate “qualified immunity” seemed poised to usher in a new era empowering citizens who felt wronged by police.
But then, in state after state, the bills withered, were withdrawn, or were altered beyond recognition. At least 35 state qualified-immunity bills have died in the past 18 months, according to an analysis by The Washington Post of legislative records and data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The efforts failed amid multifaceted lobbying campaigns by police officers and their unions targeting legislators, many of whom feared public backlash if the dire predictions by police came true. Officers said they would go bankrupt and lose their homes. They said their colleagues would leave the profession in droves.
While advocates argued that qualified immunity allows rogue officers to brutalize citizens without paying a personal price, law enforcement officials countered that it protects police from being financially destroyed for the rapid life-or-death decisions they must make on the job.
So far, police are winning the argument nearly everywhere.
Among at least four bills that are still alive, three initially called for a complete ban on qualified immunity. One of these, in Michigan, has since been amended to allow use of the legal defense in many instances. And among the seven qualified-immunity bills that have become law since last year, only Colorado has completely barred the legal defense for officers. Iowa actually strengthened qualified-immunity rights of its officers and Arkansas did so for its college and university police officers.
In New Mexico, changes were made so quietly that many advocates didn’t know that the ability to sue individual officers had been taken out as they testified for the bill.
Stephanie Maez, a former state legislator, tearfully told lawmakers earlier this year in an online hearing how a court granted qualified immunity to an Albuquerque homicide detective she accuses of framing her 18-year-old son for murder.
“He was released and vindicated and the real murderers were caught and are serving time,” the 41-year-old said of her son, “[but] there has been no accountability.”
But Maez didn’t know at the time that the bill she was supporting, the New Mexico Civil Rights Act, had been fundamentally altered days before to drop a provision allowing people to sue officers in state court. And new language was inserted that explicitly prohibited an accuser from naming an officer in a state civil rights lawsuit.
Now, she has little doubt why the Democratically controlled legislature — facing heavy pressure from police unions — assented to changing the bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) in April.
THIS IS A LONG BUT EXCELLENT ARTICLE … IF YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT OUT OF CONTROL POLICE, OPEN “The Whole Story”!
Although Maez can’t use New Mexico’s new law to file a second lawsuit in state courts — since the incident predates the law’s passage — she believed when she testified that the bill would help future victims by eliminating qualified immunity.
Now, she said she has little doubt that lawmakers caved to police opposition.
“It’s really disappointing and frustrating. For me it was less about the money and more about a means to hold individual officers accountable,” she said. “If there are no consequences for them, how can we expect change?”