by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
On Tuesday, June 9, 2020, Carolina Journal published two opinion columns side by side on police reform. Syndicated columnist John Hood’s piece is headlined “Law enforcement: Police misconduct is everyone’s problem. Next to it is the column authored by Amy Cooke, publisher of Carolina Journal. Her piece is titled “Law enforcement: Use caution when calling for sweeping policing reforms.”
The two opinion pieces provide differing perspective on the way to move forward in the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
In John Hood’s piece, he makes several suggestions for reform, one related to what’s termed qualified immunity. Hood writes:
An 1871 federal law states that government actors “shall be liable to the party injured” for “the deprivation of any rights.” But subsequent court decisions have softened this strict-liability standard by making it hard for injured plaintiffs to win claims against the police unless they can cite prior convictions in cases with something close to the same facts. Jurists from across the legal spectrum think this “qualified immunity” test is unwarranted and extraconstitutional. There are better ways to protect individual officers from financial penalties for truly good-faith mistakes, such as indemnification (which is already common).
From Amy Cooke’s perspective:
[T]hings can be done to improve community policing, including the following:
- Bad apples: Allow law enforcement agencies to share internal investigation reports to prevent “bad apples” from being hired at another agency that is unaware of the officer’s record.
- Additional anti-bias and proper use of force training including chokeholds: this will come at a cost but is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars.
- Keep workplace freedom in place: Resist collective bargaining for public sector employees. Law enforcement agencies with the biggest problems are almost always large metropolitan, unionized departments that protect “bad apples” through union contracts.