Tags: qualified immunity | police | civil lawsuit | nyc | new york

NYC First in Nation to End Qualified Immunity for Police

NYC First in Nation to End Qualified Immunity for Police
Police officers walk along a street handing out information leaflets advising how to report on hate crimes, at a park in Chinatown, New York City. (Ed Jones/AFP via Getty/AFP)

By    |   Saturday, 27 March 2021 10:18 AM

New York City police officers are now vulnerable to civil lawsuits in cases of excessive force and unreasonable searches after lawmakers passed a series of reforms Thursday, including effectively ending qualified immunity.

“Today we provide the people of New York City an important tool for accountability when law enforcement violates their rights,” said Council Member Stephen Levin, who sponsored the resolution. “This legislation is simple—it creates a set of civil rights here in New York City, mirroring those conferred by the 4th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, so that people in New York City can hold officers accountable if those officers violate their civil rights. It eliminates the shield of Qualified Immunity to allow victims the opportunity to seek justice.”

Subjecting police officers to civil lawsuits faced strong opposition from unions representing the NYPD, because it has long been argued it would handcuff police in protecting their communities from dangerous criminals.

"New Yorkers are getting shot and police officers are out on the street, all day and all night, trying to stop the bloodshed," NYC Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch wrote in a statement, CNN reported.

"Where are these City Council members? Safe at home, hiding behind their screens and dreaming up new ways to give criminals a free pass. It won't get better unless New Yorkers shame the politicians into doing their job."

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea also spoke out against the reforms, noting he was not given any say in the crafting of the bills and resolutions.

"Right now, the commissioner hires them, trains them, asks them to go in harm's way to keep New Yorkers safe and if an officer breaks the rules, I discipline them and if necessary fire them," Shea told CNN. "If I am not doing that the right way, I am accountable. The buck stops here. To take that away from the commissioner, ask yourself who has the accountability then?

"No other city agency uses that system nor does the FBI, the Secret Service, or the Marines. There is a reason for that. You need to know where the buck stops."

The reforms are also opposed by the The Legal Aid Society, which plays a large role in holding the NYPD accountable.

"Mayor [Bill] de Blasio had a genuine opportunity to implement urgently needed policing reforms," The Legal Aid Society's Tina Luongo told CNN. "He failed to do that and instead produced a plan that at best glosses over the deeply rooted systemic problems within the NYPD that plague the New Yorkers we serve."

In addition to ending qualified immunity, the reforms mandate transparency and oversight of policing. Among the oversight will be the Civilian Complaint Review Board investigating police on race complaints and providing support for a state bill that would give the board authority on discipline recommendations for officers.

Also, the reforms mandate a quarterly report on traffic stops, the Department of Transportation taking over investigations of serious-injury crashes and support for a state bill that would require police officers to live within the city lines.

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New York City police officers are now vulnerable to civil lawsuits in cases of excessive force and unreasonable searches after lawmakers passed a series of reforms Thursday, including effectively ending qualified immunity.
qualified immunity, police, civil lawsuit, nyc, new york
509
2021-18-27
Saturday, 27 March 2021 10:18 AM
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