Stripping qualified immunity from police officers, by the very people who enjoy the protection against civil lawsuits, is an outrage and an attack on our most important and vulnerable protectors of our society, says legal expert Alan Dershowitz.
"This is an outrage to take away qualified immunity only from the police," Dershowitz told Newsmax TV's "Saturday Report."
"Remember, prosecutors have it, judges have it, many other public officials have it. Police are the lowest paid people of everybody on this chain."
Qualified immunity protects police officers from civil lawsuits for doing their job. The New York City Council moved this week to strip the NYPD of those protections.
"The idea that every police officer, when they have to make a decision whether to protect us, whether to protect innocent people, will be thinking about, 'are going to take our home; are they going to take our children's allowance; or are they going to take healthcare away from us?'" Dershowitz lamented to host Carl Higbie.
"'Will they be able to sue us for making an honest and simple mistake under pressure?'"
The stripping of the protections should start at the top, not the bottom, Dershowitz continued.
"If you're going to start taking away qualified immunity, start with prosecutors, start with judges, move on to the city council, and then have it across the board," he said.
"But get to the police last, not first."
The move will leave police vulnerable and likely keep them from decisive actions to protect citizens from violent criminals, unions and law enforcement advocates argue.
"This is just picking on the most vulnerable people, the people who need it the most, and the people who have to be able to act quickly and without worrying about their own financial situation," Dershowitz said, noting police officers wages make defending themselves against lawsuits prohibitive.
The police need more funding for education and training, not less legal protections, Dershowitz argued.
"Even the defenders in New York, The Legal Aid Agency, which is not pro cop, has said, 'no, this is the wrong approach,'" Dershowitz noted. "Let's increase funding for police. Let's make sure they're better trained, but don't take their living away from them and make them unwilling to risk their lives."
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