Senator Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Greg McGuckin and John Catalano of the 10th Legislative District warned that a rush by Democrats to remove certain legal protections for law enforcement would severely threaten public safety and drive the cost of property taxes higher.
Holzapfel, McGuckin & Catalano warned that a rush by Democrats to remove certain legal protections for law enforcement would severely threaten public safety and drive the cost of property taxes higher. (Flickr)
They pointed to legislation recently introduced by Trenton Democrats, S-3730, which would eliminate qualified immunity as a defense for law enforcement officers.
“Qualified immunity is an important defense for police officers that discourages frivolous personal lawsuits every time they arrest someone,” said Holzapfel. “Eliminating this protection would encourage a flood of lawsuits not just against individual officers, but against towns and police departments as well. Town budgets would be crushed by skyrocketing insurance rates and expensive legal fees. It’s not just police officers who would pay the price of removing qualified immunity, but property taxpayers too. This is another example of attempting to prohibit police from doing their jobs, which ultimately results in our citizens’ safety being compromised.”
Under the qualified immunity doctrine, public employees, including law enforcement officers, are immune from civil liability when their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.
Removing qualified immunity would lower the bar substantially for lawsuits against individual police officers and their personal assets.
“Eliminating qualified immunity for police officers is a tremendously bad idea,” said McGuckin. “Cops already get sued all the time, but they are protected by the law and indemnified by their departments in most cases. Without those protections, a criminal defendant would have little disincentive to sue the arresting cop to gain leverage in their case. Who would want to become police officer if they had to gamble their family home and the financial well-being of their spouses and children every time they responded to a call? It’s insane to think this would be good for public safety.”
The legislators said eliminating qualified immunity is the next step in the Democrats’ efforts to undermine law enforcement.
“Democrats first wanted to defund the police as an institution, now they want to bankrupt individual police officers on a massive scale by encouraging a wave of expensive lawsuits,” said Catalano. “No matter what Democrats say, this is the next step in their effort to eliminate police by discouraging officers from serving and by making departments too expensive to maintain. It’s even more insulting this bill was introduced immediately preceding National Police Week. Have no doubt, their war against police is really a war against safe and affordable communities.”
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