Hoosiers know our law enforcement officers as neighbors, friends and honorable public servants who, even on the easiest of days, perform a difficult and dangerous job. Behind the badge and uniform are men and women who put their lives on the line every day on behalf of every citizen they serve.
For them and their families, I am eternally grateful.
The recent calls to defund or disband the very police departments that we depend on are irresponsible and downright dangerous. I will never support that.
Further, some are advocating to change qualified immunity. People who advocate this position need to reach out to the brave men and women who serve in law enforcement to understand the consequences of undermining this important protection.
Qualified immunity does not prohibit bad officers from being held accountable by our system of justice. Those who commit illegal acts on the beat, like those accused of George Floyd’s murder, are rightfully subject to state or federal criminal charges.
Qualified immunity shields police officers from being sued in civil court over official actions. To suggest that it allows law enforcement to conduct themselves unlawfully or deprive citizens of their rights is false.
Limiting or eliminating this important civil protection would have disastrous implications. It would open up officers – and their families – to countless civil lawsuits and make community policing all but impossible. It would also drive out those currently serving in law enforcement and make it harder to attract new recruits.
Congress must come together in a bipartisan way to address police reform. That is why I am a proud cosponsor of the JUSTICE Act, the bill authored by Representative Pete Stauber. The Senate companion effort is being led by Republican Senator Tim Scott.
The JUSTICE Act is the only bill under consideration in Congress that offers bipartisan, commonsense solutions to the very real issues that are dividing our country. This bill is an honest step in the right direction and would serve to restore trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.
99.9% of law enforcement officers are good, honest and decent public servants who work tirelessly to make our cities and towns safer places to live. These men and women understand the respect and dignity worthy of every citizen and would bravely sacrifice their own lives for ours.
In these times, the heroes of law enforcement deserve more support, not less.