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Velshi: Reforming qualified immunity


Qualified immunity is one of those things that, if altered or removed, could fundamentally change policing. Qualified immunity protects law enforcement officers as well as state and local officials from frivolous litigation unless the accused violated a clearly established constitutional right. And establishing that violation is not easy, especially if there is no prior pattern of such behavior - so over the years, qualified immunity has become a kind of “shield” in thousands of lawsuits seeking to hold police officers accountable when accused of using excessive force. Proponents of qualified immunity say it’s essential because police need latitude to make split-second decisions in scenarios that could put lives, including their own, at risk. Opponents described qualified immunity as a, “shoot first, think later” approach to policing.