Article from For Liberty by Norm Leahy.

A Pew Charitable Trust survey on law enforcement reform shows broad public support for limiting qualified immunity – the court-created doctrine that shields public officials, including law enforcement, who violate an individual’s constitutional rights– from personal liability.

Two-thirds of Americans (66%) say that civilians need to have the power to sue police officers to hold them accountable for misconduct and excessive use of force, even if that makes the officers’ jobs more difficult. Just 32% say that, in order for police officers to do their jobs effectively, they need to be shielded from such lawsuits.

Congress has yet to decide what, if anything, it will do regarding qualified immunity. A Congressional Research Service report noted that because “qualified immunity is a product of statutory interpretation, Congress has wide authority to amend, expand, or even abolish the doctrine.”

Overall, the Pew survey showed a majority (58 percent) of people still believe law enforcement des an ”excellent or good job.” 

The same poll also showed strong support for maintaining or increasing spending on law enforcement:

A 73% majority say that spending on their local police should stay about the same as it is now (42%) or be increased from its current level (31%). While Black adults are more likely than whites to favor cuts in police budgets, fewer than half of Black adults (42%) say spending on policing in their areas should be reduced. That is double the share of white adults who favor cutting funding for their local police (21%).

There also are sizable age differences in views of funding for policing. Among both Black and white adults, those under age 50 are far more likely to support decreased funding for police in their areas than are those 50 and older.