Fighting for Statewide Reforms

End qualified immunity

Qualified immunity has shielded police officers who break the law for decades. Now is the time to ensure our state laws end it. Originally conceived to protect government employees from frivolous lawsuits, a series of broad court decisions since the 1960s has warped that idea into a system where it is now nearly impossible to hold police officers liable, allowing them to violate constitutional rights with impunity.

Even many federal judges believe these protections have gone too far. Earlier this year, while being forced to find an officer was protected by qualified immunity, Federal Judge Carlton Reeves said, "Judges have invented a legal doctrine to protect law enforcement officers from having to face any consequences for wrongdoing. The doctrine is called 'qualified immunity.' In real life, it operates like absolute immunity."

A system of true police accountability cannot exist side by side with legal protections that shield police from liability for their misconduct. Washington State should join Colorado in ensuring there is a way for victims of police violence and misconduct to hold police officers liable when their constitutional rights are violated.

Other statewide reforms we need: