Public Comments for 01/27/2021 Courts of Justice - Civil Subcommittee
HB1856 - Estate planning documents; electronic execution, codifies Uniform Electronic Wills Act.
HB2045 - Civil action for deprivation of rights; duties and liabilities of certain employers.
People harmed by police violence deserve their day in court. Virginians should have the unqualified right to sue police in state court when their rights are violated.
Citizens should be protected by the police. Cops should be sued when they do not fulfill their duties and god forbid and so frequently murder those people whom they should be protecting. This has gone on too long.
PLEASE HOLD POLICE ACCOUNTABLE
Offices should not have Immunity for any civil or criminal act they commit against any person, legal or illegal, while policing any community.
Everyone should be treated with respect. Inhumane treatment should not be allowed in jails and prisons. People there are already being punished and need Rehabilitation this only makes their mental health worse.
It's the humane thing to do.
I am a lifelong Virginian, father of two, homeowner, teacher and voter. I urge you to end qualified immunity. I believe this is an essential step towards a criminal justice system capable of being held accountable by civilians for murders and abuses of power. I believe that this is an essential step towards creating a society in which Black and minority Americans have the same rights and privileges as white Americans.
We must end qualified immunity in order to build a more equitable future.
A very strong vote YES in favor of HB2045 to end qualified immunity.
We must end qualified immunity. If we live in a free society nobody should be above the law, certainly not those charged with carrying it out.
It was hard surviving the Jesse Matthew's case. Not all the women did. Police should be held accountable. I have suffered them targeting victims, with more abuse, because they do not want to be sued. I would like to submit the photo if the Pump Penis for Virginia. Sheriff deputies drove past it for two weeks. I requested they remove it, my car window was bashed the next day. I was relieved it was only a window, I have seen them go after my daughter and two small children, many times. I have met their lawyers that defend them against lawsuits, they terrorized my family in our home. I had no intention of filing a lawsuit against them, but suffered more hostile actions from them anyway. I have spent years, reporting criminals to them, asking only justice for the crimes we suffered, only to be treated with gender based abuse. There must be accountability, for abuses of the power given them, with a badge.
Qualified immunity needs to end. As a manager of a small business that serves food and beverages, my staff and I must follow many rules, regulations and health codes to keep our guests safe, both in normal times and especially during the pandemic. If we don't follow these rules, our guests could be hurt, get sick or possibly even die. If that were to happen, our business might get sued. We owe it to our guests and staff to take care of them and act responsibly for the community. Ending qualified immunity is the right thing to do because it means that law enforcement officers would be held accountable for their job responsibilities, like protecting and serving the community and the people in it (not just property). Those officers that have been doing their jobs well (as in, NOT violating people's constitutional rights, nor sexually harassing/shooting/killing unarmed people) then they will not need to worry. We must end qualified immunity and require law enforcement and their unions to carry insurance and pay for lawsuits when they lose; this should NOT be on the taxpayer. If citizens are held to the standard of the law, police officers should be held to a higher standard and they should not be above the law nor able to break laws without consequences. Qualified immunity needs to be ended now. Thank you.
Please end qualified immunity!
I have witnessed cops take advantage of the power that they hold in our society. The citizens need a way to hold police accountable for their actions. This is one step towards dismantling the systemic racist systems we have in place. Please listen to the people and provide qualified immunity to police officers.
There is no excuse for a member of the american public to be immune from the law. All men are created equal.
I am writing in support of HB 2045. In 2011 I was wrongfully arrested by Fairfax Police Officer Kenneth Bridgeman. The officer committed numerous errors and violations of Fairfax police standards of conduct, the first of which was identifying the individuals present or conducting an investigation. In error, I was locked in handcuffs in his cruiser, then officer Bridgeman illegally re-entered my home where he and fellow officers conducted a warrantless search of my home for my identification. My two adult sons witnessed their search throughout our home and collected their names and badge numbers to file a complaint. In response, the Fairfax police and former Commonwealth’s Attorney “circled their wagons” in response to our complaints against the officers and suborned intentional perjury in order to “win” a case in which they could not otherwise have prevailed. The Commonwealth also produced a fabricated police vehicle report to corroborate officer Bridgeman’s in court perjury. All exculpatory evidence and knowledge of witnesses was withheld by the prosecution and police department. Officer Bridgeman’s immediate supervisor, office Robin Davis, was demoted a full rank and soon after retired following our complaint, but Fairfax County has repeatedly refused, even to subpoena, to release disciplinary records or exonerating evidence in county custody. Without any means to sue police for misconduct, Virginia citizens have no means for recourse following unjust misconduct by law enforcement officers. I ask for a vote in favor of this bill.
please pass this bill. qualified immunity needs to and it's what Virginians want and need! there is no good reason not to do it
End qualified immunity and vote yes on HB2045 to help our marginalized communities.
We cannot continue to shield police in courts from the harm of their actions against Black and Brown, transgender and non-binary, and immigrant communities. This will hold police accountable when they infringe upon Virginians' rights and allow for the possibility of recovering much needed damages after a traumatic incident with law enforcement. This will also discourage police from committing harmful acts when they know they can be held personally culpable - too often a sense of immunity pervades policing which enables a feeling that they can treat Black, brown, and low income communities however they choose without accountability. That ends today! Please support HB 2045.
All, I hope you all are doing well today. I'm e-mailing you to show my opposition to HB 2045. This will put your constituents in danger of your officers hesitating to think if they will be sued civilly for upholding the laws of Virginia. I hope you take this consideration as I have with my family's safety and well being. Please ensure the other delegates on the board understand my stance.
This summer, I witnessed Richmond residents, who were exercising their right to protest, be brutalized by city and state police, with little to no consequence for officers involved. Some officers were even emboldened by the level of force that they were permitted to use and attacked onlookers standing on a sidewalk, wrestling protestors to the ground outside of a bar for asking officers to identify themselves, and smugly created “protestor brutalization tokens” to pass around during the holidays. The idea that it would be unethical for civilians to sue the police force that spent the summer assaulting them is egregious. HB2045 must be passed, for the safety of ALL living in the city of Richmond.
Please Vote NO on HB 2045! This bill endangers the safety and wellbeing of our law enforcement officers, their families, and every single citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia. If this bill in passed, you will see a mass exodus of law enforcement officers from every department across the Commonwealth between now and July 1. The actions of the House and Senate in the special session along with other bills currently on the table have started the ripple effect and many good officers are leaving the profession and/or retiring as soon as possible and no person in their right mind would sign up to fill the vacancies. This bill will start a monsoon of officers hanging up the badge and walking off the job leaving every law enforcement agency at every level across the state severely understaffed and the safety of the citizens and visitors of the Commonwealth of Virginia will suffer immensely. VOTE NO ON HB 2045!
We need to vote to end qualified immunity immediately! People deserve to take their issues with the police before the courts and be heard. It is unconsciounable that we allow police to act with impunity.
Inmates deserve to have a voice without such the system is the only voice that matters. Allowing inmates to have advocates so to speak gives hope to those seeking to be helped and heard.
It is time for Virginians to demand the same accountability for law enforcement officers as it has long demanded for others who commit crimes and perpetrate violence. I strongly support HB 2045 to give Virginians the unqualified right to sue police in state court when their rights are violated.
It is time that we hold our law enforcement officers accountable for crimes and violence committed against Virginians. I strongly support HB2045 so that Virginians can have the right to sue police in state court when their rights are violated. I urge lawmakers support this bill as well.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I ask that you please oppose HB2045. Our men and women who serve our community deserve these types of protections. Please do right by our officers, our courts and our community. Also, while police officers seem to be the target of this proposal, please don’t forget others protected by this immunity (teachers, social workers, etc.). The thought of this should not even be entertained. Thanks for your time. Adam Berry Chesterfield County Resident
Over two years ago I marched for Justice and Reformation for Marcus-David Peters a young teacher, a VCU grad, right here in Richmond who was shot to death by the police on the side of the I-95 freeway in Richmond, during rush hour, while he was unarmed, naked and suffering from a mental breakdown. At the time, I remember watching the devastating footage and thinking, among many, many other things “How could people see this happen and keep driving?” There were people I knew here who didn’t even know it happened at all. My husband and I marched with hundreds of others to the police station where Princess Blanding stood in the pouring rain and read out our demands, while detectives stayed in the building and took pictures of us from above. I remember then being in awe of her strength to be able to walk, to march, to stand to speak after experiencing such a tragedy. That same week a friend invited me as her guest, to attend the annual NAACP dinner where Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney gave a speech about what happened to Marcus, saying he would make sure of an investigation, work with police, etc. so this wouldn’t happen again. I wish I would have recorded his comments because here we are almost three years (and two police chiefs) later with no more blustery speeches, no public meeting addressing policies around mental health and law enforcement. Not only that, but the original demands have still not been met. This is why I am urging you to vote YES on HB2045. This same story is repeated across this country as we saw this summer with George Floyd, and before that with Breonna Taylor and the list goes on and on. and all too often we know how it will play out—the murder was somehow justified because the police officer felt endangered. We just saw this happen not two weeks ago with the tragic shooting of Xzavier Hill by Virginia State Police. This is a horrifying record to keep playing and one that can be changed in Virginia, by you, our elected officials. Please put the Commonwealth on the path to accountability, to make police departments have better training for officers in these situations, to truly change and fix a broken and deadly system. Allow victims to have a voice, to have their stories heard and allow justice to be served. The protection of police officers, agents of the state protected by their positions and their unions, must end. Protect Black and Brown lives, protect your legacy as an elected official to not look back and see the brutality and injustice we allowed to thrive in the Commonwealth. It is one thing to watch and another to truly see. To really see what we are allowing to happen in this country to Black and Brown bodies. We cannot keep moving, there is no “getting past” murder but there can be justice.
End qualified immunity! No more special allowances for officers of the law! They must be held to the same standard they enforce. Too many crooked cops evade long sentences after doing repeated harm to innocent people. Listen to community organizers, close this loophole for bad acting police officers
Just like every job in America, the job comes with responsibility. Certain jobs should be held to a higher accountability, this includes police. When they make dangerous choices or choose to go against policy they need to be held accountable.
We must support HB2045 AND END QUALIFIED IMMUNITY! This is a more than necessary step toward upholding the civility, justice, and humanization in our community. Police officers must not have special privileges that puts them above the law. We all must be treated equally. It is a threat to society for community members not to be able to seek justice when harmed by police which happens A LOT.
I am a trans woman who has been stalked, harassed, threatened, assaulted, unlawfully arrested, deprived of my property, discriminated against by police officers. Due to the qualified immunity defense, I've had no way to hold the officers accountable, or receive compensation for the harm they've caused. Every year, thousands of people are victimized by Virginia law enforcement officers. This can't keep happening; there must be accountability.
I want to first state I oppose this bill. As an African American male and also Police Chief I understand the sentiments on both sides. I know there are bad apples in every walk of life. We, as Police Chiefs do our best to expunge them from our ranks. However bad outcomes do happen and there are remedies in the Code of Virginia and our policies for dealing with those situations. I do believe stereotyping of any kind is wrong. Just as I believe all African American males are not drug dealers , deadbeat dads or suspects, not every police officer is racist or a bad officer. We should not be judged as a whole in Virginia when bad outcomes happen in other parts of the country. Decisions are made in a split second and can be dissected for a lifetime. HB 2045 will do more harm than good to the community it wants to help. Law enforcement has a hard time as it is recruiting officers. This bill will make officers personally liable for doing their job. Frivolous lawsuits will follow when cases are dismissed. The Code of Virginia . (Domestic Violence) 19.2-81.3. ( c ) states A law-enforcement officer having probable cause to believe that a violation of § 18.2-60.4 has occurred that involves physical aggression shall arrest and take into custody the person he has probable cause to believe, based on the totality of the circumstances, was the predominant physical aggressor unless there are special circumstances which would dictate a course of action other than an arrest. Often times victims recant and tell a different story. This may now lead to allegations of false arrest by the officer. How do you reconcile this arrest with the possibility of personal liability when things change as they often do. Pro Active policing will be curtailed due to officer potential of personal liability. Churches , Schools, Civic organizations and private businesses will shy away hiring officers for traffic control or security (BLACK FRIDAY events) due to the liability they may incur. Local governments will need to raise taxes to cover insurance rates as frivolous lawsuits arise. If any insurance company will extend this type of coverage! Qualified Immunity does not prevent citizens from suing Qualified immunity does not exempt officers from arrest Qualified Immunity will increase the cost of local government Qualified Immunity will enrich trial lawyers Qualified Immunity is not just for officers Qualified Immunity applies to teachers , social workers, mental workers and others I applaud you for recognizing there needs to be changes in the Criminal Justice System to fix the disparity. However, attacking one segment is not the answer. Take a look at the systems / laws that were put in place by legislatures that contributed to this, let’s look at the sentencing disparities. Again I oppose this bill strongly because it will hurt our communities, my community, the community, I took an oath to protect and serve. DeWitt Cooper Chief of Police City of Galax.
VOTE YES ON HB2045!
Qualified immunity completely alters the incentive structure for law enforcement officers. It presents a significant moral hazard problem to the community. The inability to punish an officer who misbehaves and harms members of the public creates significant distrust in the community. In no other occupation is an individual protected for “doing their job” when they wantonly step outside of what is permissible. If policymakers are at all concerned with “weeding out the bad apples” in policing organizations, this is the way to do it. The claim that policing is so dangerous that it requires officers to sometimes act in egregious ways is false. The BLS and other non-partisan organizations consistently show that many occupations are significantly more dangerous than policing, including garbage collecting. Yet the same immunity is not offered to them. In reality, policymakers afford law enforcement officers such an exception because they are a powerful interest group. They lobby effectively and raise significant funds for their preferred elected officials. To the many delegates who claim to not be in the pocket of any interest group, I implore you to examine the true motivations of why you might be opposed to passing such a bill that protects villains with badges in the community. Law enforcement officials ask ordinary citizens all the time, “if you’re not breaking the law, what do you have to worry about?” Now is the time to hold them to the same standard. Who, if not you, will guard the guardians? I suspect that if legitimate means to resolve this imminent issue are not taken, the community will step in and find a way to solve it for themselves. However, delegates, that may mean they find alternatives outside of the political sphere to stand up for themselves, and we know the government doesn’t like competition.
It is crucial that we pass this. Police's jobs are incredibly hard, but officers cannot be above the law. We need the ability to take disciplinary action against the "bad apple" officers who make the entire force look bad.
No person is above the law - in spite of what Trump is attempting to demonstrate. No one! Not presidents, not law enforcement, not judges, lawyers, nor state representatives. When a person is wronged, our constitution guarantees the right to redress those wrongs and law enforcement should be no different. Full stop! Apply the laws equally to all persons in all situations regardless of title or position. Natasha McKenna was tasered to death in a Fairfax jail while NAKED and shackled. She was 37 years old and completely unable to fend off her attackers. The officers who killed her were excused by saying she died of "excited delirium," a nonsensical, ridiculous "diagnosis" used to blame a Black woman with mental illness for her own death. They blamed a defenseless woman for her own death. This is just simply WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! No one deserves such treatment in this country - our country - our commonwealth! COMMON wealth. Search your heart and you will approve this bill. If you need further convincing, please read on... If this woman looked like you and YOUR OWN relatives, how would you feel about what happened to her? Wouldn't you want the person(s) responsible for her unjustified murder held fully accountable for their actions? As you are capable, fully clothed, free, and not shackled, please dig deep and be honest and see with your heart, see this through God's eyes. You know that justice for all, applied equally to all, and giving everyone the right to address wrongs is the right thing to do. On behalf of Natasha and other ordinary people murdered by those we're all expected to trust and respect, do the right thing and approve this bill. Go beyond your party, your politics and seek out God's guidance. Law enforcement is supposed to serve and protect, not get their jollies by tasering a naked woman to death and walking away without serious consequences. Thank you for this opportunity to be heard.
I think that this proposal is absolutely ludicrous. People want reparations for harm done unjustly. However, let me guess since it’s not you or your family members it doesn’t or shouldn’t resonate for you. That’s fine if you think that but all families experience a troublesome time and you not always there to protect them. As the old cliche says “ain’t no fun when the rabbit has the gun.”
Good day and thank you for taking the time to hear the voices of your constituents. It is safe to say that over the course of 2020, the general public’s opinion on police, including the ideals around policing, have been majorly impacted. Police are no longer as heroes and for good reason, they are as human as the rest of us. If there is a job posting that calls for, “Enforcement of the law but no personal responsibility to follow it” who do you think that job would attract? An individual with a desire to be of service to others, or an individual who prioritizes power and authority over others? I could ramble on about political theory, social constructs concerning policing, even the very basis of human nature to support the need of consequences for wrongful actions, but it would be nothing that any of you have not heard before. This issue is no longer political, it is as simple as allowing your constituents to feel that much safer when calling upon a service that it’s government declares a sole purpose is to protect them. It is as simple as Mark Twain’s words from Huckleberry Finn, “What's the use you learning to do right when it's troublesome to do right and ain't no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same?” There is no such thing as an action without consequences, and it is beyond unfortunate that the decision of where those consequences land is not within the power of those who have been most objectified negatively by said actions. It is in the power of the officials they have elected to represent them, so in their best interest you must act. Hold the police accountable. Let no human being be above the law. If weaknesses in legislation are so exposed by those in power by the end of qualified immunity, so be it and so? Fix it. A system in which any human being is oppressed and exploited by the law while others are glorified and coddled is not one in which justice or basic equality can prevail. Let us work together to strive for a community so well balanced, nourished, enriched, and appreciated that we all wish to protect it so much so there is no longer a need for police. Let’s take that first step in making our community proud of itself again. End qualified immunity, support liberty and justice for all.
I fully support ending qualified immunity. Just like any other job, the position of public safety officer must come with checks and balances to ensure the community is indeed safe from the very officers meant to protect it. Qualified immunity has mostly impacted black and brown community members, but we are all protected when we hold police accountable for their actions, just as we as individuals are held accountable for ours. The job cannot come with a license to kill at will. Public safety officers should be trained to handle situations involving community members in mental crisis without lethal force, yes. But even if we are criminals, we deserve our day in court- we are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The dead cannot prove themselves innocent. End qualified immunity and show the rest of the nation what actual progress looks like. We have the ability to make real change in the lives of our neighbors- don’t squander this opportunity, I implore you.
End Qualified Immunity.
I demand the same accountability for law enforcement as all other Virginians, who commits crimes or otherwise. I strongly support HB-2045 to give Virginians the unqualified right to sue police in state court when their rights are violated.
Rockbridge County is a big problem. The Sheriff's Dept is nxt to the jail. After recent jail scandal in USDC most of the bad actors remained in place. A task force detective, Greg Gardner after stalking and running down young locals for marijuana & ruinng many families (we used our retirement to pay attys fees) was investigated by Roanoke Internal Affairs & taken off task force for many reasons, one of them, sleeping with informants. He is now a Lexington cop. I wanted to sue for Selective Enforcement & Discriminatory Arrest but am afraid to act as my son is at risk in their jail. He was stopped 8 times & only ever found a thimbleful of pot so they set out to set him up on a sale to a friend (informant they took control of as a juvenile years ago) They were always saying they had a bad tip after pulling minorities & poor white kids over, cuff them, push them in the ditch, search car, then pat their back & say: Sorry. Bad tip. We think drone operator & Buena Vista cop who is also on task force, Alan Buzzard, is violating rights with his drone. Our recidivism is at 80%+. Same people over & over. They increased police budget by millions under Trump with no new population & very little crime. They MADE pot felons right before decriminalization. I came here 25 years ago because there was a court reporter shortage & but it runs deep. my husband's family had a 1780 house in Fairfield they needed us to stay & caretake. I knew these were bad cops. My family feels attacked by these bad cops and by extension, prosecutors. I have no money to sue them now and I live in fear for my son in their overcrowded jail. He's facing a MANDATORY MINIMUM that stemmed from these bad cops which we wait to see if they are ending them by the end of March. I pray our lawmakers can turn this all around but it runs deep. We need bold action.
I am writing to voice my support of HB2045 to end qualified immunity. Qualified immunity is unconstitutional and perpetuates police misconduct and abuse. Our communities deserve better. Thank you. Mera carle Richmond Va
This bill will undoubtedly cause a mass exodus in law enforcement across the state. By removing the protections against the men and women serving their communites, you are not only slapping them in the face, but you are basically telling them they don't matter. It sickening to see that criminals are being put in front of public safety. The current law has a provision where the protections are void if the Officer is found negligent. If this bill is passed you will see a massive exodus in law enforcement and with that will come higher crime rates because no one would want to do the job without having some sort of protections in place. Thanks for taking the time to read this.
Quite simply, we can only trust the police if they are held to the same standards that all of us are. Qualified immunity serves in practice as a shield for bad cops to keep being bad.
It is essential this bill pass as a step to deconstruct qualified immunity and to put in place accountability that can save lives. Police are nearly untouchable and have hurt so many families and taken so many lives without any repercussions that surmount to the level of injustice. This bill will allow those families an opportunity for justice and will potentially hold enough weight that officers think two, three, or four times before using unnecessary force and providing execution. We have seen the, "I was afraid for my life" claim be carried out for far too long when numerous cases of evidence shows a lack of threat, resistance, or could have been managed with intervention outside of the lead of a bullet or the electricity of a taser in excess. I strongly encourage you all to consider the lives that have been effected and could be effected, even if it hasn't directly ever applied to you, and pass HB2045.
Qualified immunity was created so all police could commit crimes or make “mistakes” such as life threatening or life changing mistakes and they see no consequences from it there they never learn. Help your community become safer from these criminal police.
Esteemed House Panel, As both a mental healthcare professional, social worker and a Virginia resident with family members who struggle with mental health issues, I know all to well the great need to keep public servants in all arenas, including police and correctional officers, accountable for their actions while on duty. In my professional and personal life, I have witnessed incidents where a public servants in positions of authority have crossed the line and allowed their own emotions or implicit bias to lead them to act in ways that violate the rights of the very people they are meant to be serving and protecting. As mental healthcare professionals, we are held to ethics and standards, and have a personal responsibility to adhere to those guidelines. By law, when our clients feel their rights have been violated, they do not have to qualify their cases before filing complaints, requesting investigations and even filing litigation. That is their right, and protecting my clients rights is my obligation. I strongly support each Virginian's unqualified right to sue police in state court when their rights are violated. I ask my elected representatives to support this bill.
Officers upholding public law should be subject to that very same set of laws. Without the ability to reprimand officers who step out of line the Commonwealth of Virginia is spitting in my face and telling me it’s rain. End qualified immunity for the sake of those who as of this very moment are legally banned from sharing there experiences and receiving true justice in our current judicial system.
My name is Gabby and I am encouraging the subcommittee to vote YES on HB2045. There has been a lot of talk about personal responsibility lately, especially in the context of the pandemic and Jan 6 insurrection. This notion of personal responsibility should not just extend to civilians, but needs to extend to the police. The police need to be held accountable for their actions. The officers who shot Orlando and who murdered Xzavier Hill should be held accountable. The officers who brutalized, gassed, and injured hundreds of people this summer should be held accountable. The officers, officer Wilson and officer Gilbert, who violently arrested me, threw me down, pinned my head and neck down, kept me in jail for 20 hours, and gave me a concussion that has cost me countless lost wages and over $10K in medical expenses should be held accountable. The officers who routinely murder, injure, and harass Black and brown people in this city should be held accountable. Is it not congruent with the ideals of personal responsibility and “law and order” to demand that officers own and accept liability for their actions? Is this not the same rhetoric opponents of this bill want to use to allow police to hide behind qualified immunity? If the concern is that being held accountable will cause a decline in individuals signing up to be police officers, then perhaps it is time to think about what that says about the culture of policing. When human lives are on the line, it should not be up to the taxpayers to provide funds to cover for the reckless, racist, and violent behavior of the police. This is especially true in an environment where the city continually pours money into the police - money that could be used to help the houseless population, feed those going hungry, and provide economic relief to those suffering during this pandemic. End qualified immunity. Hold the police accountable.
The urgent need to end qualified immunity is, with zero exaggeration, a matter of public safety. As long as police officers can be cloaked in the protection of qualified immunity, they will continue to “perform” their jobs recklessly with no concern for consequence or repercussions. Further, black men and women will continue to disproportionately be on the receiving end of police violence. The Virginia State Police murder of Xzavier Hill happened less than a month ago. We must put an end to this immediately and stop basic police interactions with our community members from ending in violence and death.
Police should not be immune for abuses of power and poor work ethics. Please vote yes on HB2045.
I’m asking that you not end immunity for our law enforcement in the commonwealth. Officer should be held accountable for things they do, however this is not the way. They are head accountable by criminal law. This bill will only cause more damage to our great state. You will see crime rate go up, you will not get the response you want when you need law enforcement. Why? Because they will be afraid to do their job. Out law enforcement don’t make great money, they are out on the street protecting our communities because that’s who they are. It because they are getting rich. Why risk your life and your family, home, savings, kids college fund, etc? Why? It’s just not worth it! Law enforcement professionals will flee the job in large numbers and our communities will not have law enforcement. We you need them the most they won’t be their for you. I would also look in the mirror! Legislators, Judges, etc. have immunity. Why? What are allowed to be protected but law enforcement are not?
This is Natasha McKenna. She was tasered to death in a Fairfax jail while naked and shackled. She was 37 years old. The officers who killed her were excused by saying she died of "excited delirium," a sham diagnosis used to blame a Black woman with mental illness for her own death. People harmed by police violence deserve their day in court. Virginians deserve the unqualified right to sue police in state court when their rights are violated. Police need to be held accountable for any gross misuse of force such as this.
Dear honorable members of the Courts of Justice-Civil Subcommittee: Thank you for the opportunity to provide this written statement regarding HB2045 as proposed by Delegate Bourne. I strongly oppose this bill in all forms. Should this bill become law the impact on our communities will be immeasurable as many respectable, dedicated law enforcement professionals will be compelled to leave their chosen careers and localities will become financially liable for legal expenses that arise from numerous frivolous and minor lawsuits that will need to go to full trial. Additionally, this bill would burden our already heavy-laden judicial system. As a citizen, I cannot fathom what good could be done by my community if the money this bill would cost was put towards improved mental health services and strengthening our schools. I am also certain the money could be used to provide substance abuse treatment, increased availability of diversion programs, and supporting our struggling public health agencies. As a member of the law enforcement community this bill personally pains me. Since 2016 I have volunteered my time and skills as an auxiliary law enforcement officer. I do this as a way of contributing to my community and enhancing the public image of law enforcement. There is no compensation for my position, so there is no financial incentive for me to remain in the position. I do it out of a sense of duty and with a deep feeling of pride. Unfortunately, if this bill becomes law I will have to make the difficult decision of leaving law enforcement. I cannot potentially face financial ruin for my family if I were sued and had to take unpaid leave from my actual employment to attend the numerous legal hearings. I'm not even concerned about the potential outcome of the lawsuit because I am confident in my training and certain justice would prevail in Virginia courtrooms. There are numerous volunteer and part-time law enforcement officers across the Commonwealth that save their communities a vast sum of money by providing vital services at minimal or no cost to the county, city, or town. In conclusion, this bill would do immeasurable damage to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Respectfully, do not allow this bill to progress any further. Please find positive alternatives that will strengthen our communities and protect our Commonwealth. Respectfully, Steven P. Dalton
Every person, no matter their skin color, financial status, or crime accused, are privileged to due process according to the Constitution of the United States. In a first-world country, one would also assume to provide due process with dignity and fairness to those accused. Those who violate a person's rights or commit crimes in the pursuit of justice should be held responsible no matter their job title.
I think we all know what’s going on here. The community is demanding retribution from the corrupt police and government system. Always has been. Since the creation of the police force, their sole purpose has been to return runaway property to slave owners. The police has always been about protecting the private property of the elite white. Let’s end this charade after decades of civil rights movements. Please.
I am writing in as a resident of Richmond, VA to ask that you vote YES on HB2045. The lives of Black Virginians are on the line, and statistically, one of the greatest risks to their safety is Virginia city and state police. Qualified immunity bars our communities from holding police accountable for their behavior in court, and we have seen evidence in other states that ending Qualified Immunity can and does work for the betterment of communities. Thank you.
Please vote NO
We must end qualified immunity. Please vote yes to HB2045. Thank you, Megan
We need to end qualified immunity immediately. This is a sentiment felt by many people in the Richmond community. We see over and over again that officers get away with... murder, with brutality, with crimes that we would not allow general citizens to commit. Why should we then allow for representatives, who should be setting the example for our community, to get away with murder time and time again? Aside from all of that, officers are not capable of setting the example - they did not choose this profession to be leaders because that is not how our police force trains people. There is a history, a precedent to the police force that is inherently harmful. This is not justice.
Virginians must be able to seek justice against unjust policing. I strongly support HB2045 to give Virginians the unqualified right to sue police officers in state courts whenever their rights are violated. We must hold our police officers to the same standards as those who commit other crimes.
I am strongly opposed to the bill ending qualified immunity. It will result in a mass exodus of law enforcement officers throughout the commonwealth and those who remain will be scared to do their jobs. Furthermore, if you see fit that police should not have qualified immunity, I suggest you look in the mirror and take it away from politicians also. You are capable of passing litigation that could cause an adverse effect on peoples lives. If the police can be held personally liable, then you should be as well. Why is law enforcement singled out?
We are all functioning within a system that has racism at its roots. The policing system is no exception, despite individual efforts to “serve and protect” equitably. Qualified Immunity protects racism, not people. If our police are enforcing the law equitably and without racial bias (which they inherently cannot because policing’s roots are racist), then there should be no resistance to HB2045. Please pass HB2045 which allows for police accountability. I am a nurse and I am held accountable for every action I take. If I make a mistake, I am held accountable. It is part of our social contract to protect one another and hold one another accountable.. not to punish but to hold us to a standard below which we don’t want to serve. Accountability is necessary and sends the message that says together we will maintain the highest standards of equity in policing. You will not fail. And if you do, we will address it and make amends. Not being held accountable says, I expect you to fail, here are the murky waters to hide in until we forget about it and you do it again. Pass HB2045, end Qualified Immunity for police.
Vote yes on 2045
Respectfully, please oppose HB2045. This bill potentially hinders current police officers from effectively doing their duties. Law Enforcement needs to make decisions in split seconds without fear of frivolous law suits. Qualified Immunity protects the officer who legally performed their duties from frivolous suit. Effective reform is possible with funding and training to better support Law Enforcement Officers to handle dynamic encounters safely and effectively.
I want to state strongly and for the record my desire that we repeal and discontinue qualified immunity in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Time and again, and despite whatever good intentions may have formed the foundation of this law, the implementation of qualified immunity leaves the citizens of Virginia feeling as if justice is not being served. It is not that we are against the police, but rather that we expect the police to be held to the same standards to which we are held as private citizens. Now is the time of important and lasting change, and an opportunity to chip away at the systemic forms of racism that exist omnipresently in VA and all over the South and U.S. I beg you to vote in favor of the repealing of qualified immunity.
Vote yea on 2045! Raise the level of policing in our community!
End qualified immunity. As a small business owner, I have to abide by many rules, regulations, and health codes to serve food properly to my guests. If I didn’t do that, someone could die. If that happened I would likely be sued. It’s one of the reasons I have insurance. Ending qualified immunity is the proper thing to do and would send a message to law enforcement that they need to do their jobs properly. If they aren’t violating constitutional rights, shooting and killing unarmed people, etc. they have nothing to worry about. To quote a police billboard advertisement I’ve seen, “don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the crime”. End qualified immunity, make police and police unions carry insurance to pay out lawsuits when they lose, don’t put it on us the taxpayer because a cop thinks they can break the law with impunity. It’s not right, it’s not fair, it’s immoral, and needs to be fixed quickly.
I am writing to implore you to vote no in regards to HB2045. Unfortunately the idea persists in the public mind that qualified immunity somehow shields police officers from repercussions when they violate the constitutional rights of their citizens. This is not what qualified immunity does. Qualified immunity was put in place to protect police officers (and other government officials) who act in good faith from frivolous civil lawsuits. Qualified immunity does NOT apply to police officers who violated "clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known." Another myth that has been perpetuated is that qualified immunity blocks victims from seeking justice for damages against their perpetrator. Again, this law only protects the individual officer from civil suits if qualified immunity applies. The officer in question is still open to criminal charges and the department is still open to civil suits pertaining to the incident. The officer would still be held to multiple standards of justice even if qualified immunity protected them from civil suits, and the victim can still pursue justice. In summary, qualified immunity, and its potential removal, is being touted as something it is not, that it is a be-all-end-all shield from consequences for flagrant violations of the law by police. I understand the desire to see police officers held accountable for such actions, but ending qualified immunity will not make that happen. Officers who commit acts of police brutality and murder should be charged with their crimes, and the myth that many people believe is that qualified immunity is preventing that from happening. This is not true for the simple reason that the law, as written, does not apply in those scenarios. Striving for the betterment of police through reform is a goal everyone should be able to agree on, but I believe stripping officers of qualified immunity is contrary to that goal. It is well known that public service will not make you rich, and I believe many excellent police officers will feel the risk to their family's financial well-being will no longer be worth the risk. We all want good, experienced, and intelligent police officers patrolling our communities and responding to emergencies, but I fear the vast majority of these officers will be forced to reconsider their careers if qualified immunity is stripped from them. Officers willingly accept the many dangers of the job, but asking them to open themselves up to frivolous civil suits that could bankrupt their families as well is not acceptable. Police reform is important, but we all need to understand the areas in which to focus on to achieve these goals, and, understanding what qualified immunity actually does, we can see that this will not accomplish that goal.
As an officer with 24 years of service, please do not approve House Bill 2045. Eliminating Qualified Immunity will send a ripple effect through Law Enforcement in the Commonwealth that will ultimately be detrimental to the citizens/community members we are sworn to serve and protect. LE is one of the very few professions where each fraction of a second can determine life or death. The mere hesitation by an officer’s action because he/she fears a lawsuit that he/she will not be able to financially fuel, could cost them their life or that of a citizen/Community Member. Additionally, this profession is already scrutinized to the highest degree. HB2045, in turn, makes it difficult to find “top notch” candidates to push the standards higher for LE. Due to the minimal financial gain, salary-wise, House Bill 2045, if approved, will only deter tremendous candidates because of the lack of support through law. As a result of events all over the country, Virginia localities are revising their policies and procedures to adapt to change. They, inevitably, will be better as a result of those changes. House Bill 2045, if approved, will only act as additional variable that will weaken the LE workforce and essentially effect our communities in a negative regard. An additional variable in the back of every LEO’s mind on top of confronting the events occurring in front of them. LE Departments already conduct thorough investigations on all events that effect the community. If there were egregious actions that were in blatant violation of policies and procedures, then the Department Administrators and Commonwealths Attorneys will collaborate on those details and proceed as necessary. Thank you in advance for your consideration. Please DO NOT approve HB2045.
I support this bill. I believe Virginians have a right to hold their police accountable for their actions. This bill will allow more accountability. Thank you.
Malpractice in any profession should have consequences. The need to shield police officers from financial burden is NOT more important than the need to hold them accountable and protect the rule of law. If an officer commits an egregious violation, a victim should not be denied compensation. By ending qualified immunity, the standards of the policing profession will be elevated.
I understand the need to rebuild trust in police and holding police accountable, but ending qualified immunity is not the answer. This does not address the root causes of all the POC and marginalized persons being treated unjustly by a small portion of law enforcement. By ending qualified immunity, all this serves to do is cause good, honest law enforcement to leave their departments because in this era of public opinion, even if the officer’s actions were right, the public hangs them out to dry - wanting retribution in any form against any officer. This will put a strain on already woefully understaffed departments who will have to lower their standards to recruit new officers - meaning less honest, scrupulous individuals take their place. How does this help to rebuild the trust or address the root causes? Instead of having a shotgun approach and wavering to the tide of public opinion, introduce a bill that actually addresses the problems and finds solutions. Not ones that appease the public when those outside of law enforcement have no idea what qualified immunity even means
I am writing in regards to my concern about this bill. I am concerned that eliminating qualified immunity will put the livelihood of police officers and their families at stake. My fear is the men and woman behind the badge will be fearful of doing their job and suffer a repercussion that could cost them their livelihood as well as the livelihood of their families. When officers begin to become fearful they will begin lacking and not being proactive on the job, which I believe would have a negative impact towards communities. Lack of officer involvement I believe would create more distrust among communities because people in our communities will no longer trust those who come to help now because they will see the reluctance as well as not feeling enough was done from these officers in potentially harmful situations. My husband is an officer, and my father was an officer, and coming from a family with police officers I fear this bill will cause more harm than good. I see the intent to try to prevent police brutality but what is the line drawn to declare that an action is considered “police brutality” or “too much force?” This bill I believe will cause more distrust among the officers in the community as well as an increased lack of respect that the officers battle most of the time. I can see that this bill may cause good officers to leave the profession to save their families from any type of trouble which will in the end cause more unqualified officers to fill their places and create a bigger issue than we are already facing during these times dealing with police brutality. I feel like there is a better way to become more proactive and get this issue straight, but eliminating immunity I believe would cause more of a negative impact than a positive one. I fear many men and women will leave this profession to save the livelihoods of their families and that could potentially put more people at risk because more coming across police brutality due to unqualified candidates filling positions that are left open to whoever law enforcement groups are able to recruit.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, We are opposed to HB2045 as it will cause undue stress to localities in terms of recruitment and retention of quality law enforcement officers. Currently law enforcement officers are NOT protected when they, in fact, violate someone's civil rights. This bill will allow frivolous lawsuits to be filed against law enforcement officers whose salaries do not afford them the ability to continually hire attorneys to defend them. My fear is that this bill will have the opposite effect because agencies will be forced to lower their standards in order to maintain staffing levels. Thank you for your time. Brian W. Vaught, Chairman Wythe County Board of Supervisors 24 year law enforcement veteran
It’s time for qualified immunity to end. It leads to almost no accountability for law enforcement, and if an officer didn’t violate someone’s rights or the constitution in the first place, then they don’t need it to protect them. The Fourth Amendment already does that. We should be holding police to a higher standard, not this lower one. They should not be allowed to have no consequences by virtue of a profession – much as doctors do not. In addition, as we have seen come to the fore more recently, qualified immunity has led to a deep mistrust of police, which itself makes police officers job much more difficult. A community of trust leads to better safety. Not to mention, the enormous cost to the taxpayer – and the Commonwealth’s communities – even in the rare cases it is overcome. It is time to end the zero consequences outcomes of qualified immunity and make our citizens safer.
Vote no for HB2045. This only serves to hurt law enforcement families and will result in more officers leaving this profession. Our law enforcement officers need more resources and support to perform their jobs. Kindly consider that officers are already held accountable on multiple levels at this time. Through internal affairs, civilian review boards, and by our Commonwealth Attorney. Officers that are negligent in their duties can already be sued by civilians. This Bill only serves to allow frivolous suits that can and will harm law enforcement families that sacrifice so much already. Again please vote no for this. This is not the reform Virginia needs.
As an 18 year Police Officer, Virginia tax-paying resident, and safety concerned citizen, I ask that HB 2045 be discarded. Qualified immunity is not what it is made out to be. To defeat qualified immunity, a plaintiff must show (1) that the Officers violated the plaintiff’s constitutional rights, and (2) that the law was “clearly established” such that another reasonable Officer in the same situation would have known the conduct was unlawful. Whenever an Officer’s actions are not consistent with these two measures, they are not entitled to qualified immunity. Removing qualified immunity will create third and fourth order effects that would cause the exact opposite of this bill’s likely intention. 1. Larger municipalities will shoulder the burden of the lawsuit and likely settle out of court as it is financially wiser to settle than to argue in court. The tax payer will be the one paying this bill. 2. In smaller agencies where the municipality to back the Officer, the Officer will be left to defend themselves. Their already low salary does not provide them the financial means to defend every frivolous lawsuit while maintaining any quality of a life. Almost every agency in the Commonwealth is already short-staffed. This bill will not just deter great citizens from joining the profession, but also result in many seasoned Officers to leave the profession. 3. This leads to the final, and most important result- the communities will suffer. With no Officers to respond to emergency calls, and the ones that do respond have the thought of a lawsuit if they do their job and perform in accordance with their training, they will hesitate which could be detrimental for everyone involved. I love my state, the agency I work for, and the city I serve. I do not want it to turn into one of the many locales that are depicted on the news where law enforcement has been severely restricted or removed altogether. While I recognize there is a need for criminal justice reform, HB 2045 is not the reform that will bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community, it will have an exact opposite. I dare say it would almost erase law enforcement from the picture altogether, causing the anarchy and chaos the likes that Portland and Seattle have seen and currently experiencing. Thank you for your time.
HB 2045 seeks to end qualified immunity for police officers in Virginia, which I believe would have devastating ripple effects for the entire Commonwealth. I can't think of a single officer that wants to remain one should this pass. With no protections to do our job properly, how am I able to know my family will be safe? We can barely get by on the salary given to us now. I take comfort in knowing now that should violence occur, that I and other good men and women will answer the call whether or not we are "on duty." With the passage of this bill, I can say that I will hesitate as I don't want the liability. Police officers who do their jobs in good faith should be shielded with protection from civil law suits. Ending qualified immunity is not a protective measure for the people of Virginia – it is a punishment of all law enforcement officers, and ultimately, a disservice to the citizens of Virginia. I strongly urge you and your colleagues to vote NO on HB 2045.
I urge that HB2045 not be approved. Our dedicated law enforcement personnel would be adversely impacted and quite frankly discriminated against if this bill is approved. Why does this bill discriminate against our law enforcement personnel and the answer is it is politically motivated. I say that because logic would not provide another reason. Common sense should prevail and this bill should not be approved. Our law enforcement personnel should be protected so they can continue to protect all of us without fear of unjust retribution.
Although I understand there are people who seek any form of a means to an end, this is not the answer. The large majority of our local population appreciate and care for our law enforcement. We realize and value what they do for us each day and the risks they take. I am fully aware that this bill applies to more than just them, but the political push to weaken our police officers will only break down our beloved Virginia. I firmly believe the current laws in place are to protect everyone for the greater good. Please oppose HB2045. Please listen to us, the everyday citizens. Please keep the real men and women in mind, not a political agenda.
Qualified immunity is not in the interest of society as a whole. Every person knows the law and is responsible for obeying it. This will put unnecessary restrictions on the police who serve and protect us. Please defeat HB2045.
Qualitied immunity isn't what the government portrays it to be. This happens to be what keeps my family safe if a citizen decides he doesn't like the way his hands were put behind bus back after robbing a bank or after the way his mother passing after my husband gave cpr for 20 minutes. This bill can allow a citizen to take not everything my husband has worked hard for but myself. Im appalled at how law enforcement has been treated and soon if this bill is passed there will not be any. We will not have any law in order unless it's by the military, which is something we really don't want. If we want better training then give them better training. If citizens don't like certain aspects then show them how appealing it can be to join and help to better the agencies. Don't keep taking from them. Better them. Transform them. They don't go to work wanting to be broadcasted on the news for misconduct. Or having their children's and wives lives on the lines. If that was the case they would have picked a different career. The pay is terrible so it's not for that either. They want to provide a safe community. We all have these social aspects dividing us. We need to stand together and become one unit. If this bill is passed this will divide us even further. I will no longer feel it's safe for my husband to have the ONLY career he's ever had. Please make the most appropriate decision. Support the community as a whole not as what the news portrays. We stand together don't let us fall divided.
Please do not pass this bill. While there are instances that do warrant investigation, our police cannot be hamstrung in order to do their jobs. They must make split-second decisions and this bill would cause them to hesitate or overthink their decisions. I am confident that if this bill is passed that we will begin to lose good police officers who will feel that their every move will be scrutinized, whether right or wrong. Officers who make mistakes should be investigated but to remove civil immunity will not only cause us to lose good officers but will also clog our court system with needless claims. Anyone would be allowed to bring action against an officer and, in today's climate, many of these claims will be baseless. Please support our men and women who wear a badge and do not pass this bill. Thank you.
Good morning, delegates. My name is Jed Baul, and I am a third-year student at Virginia Commonwealth University. I am the founder and president of Students Demand Action at VCU, an on-campus gun safety organization that educates and mobilizes students to end gun violence. I am here today to testify in support of HB2045, which would end qualified immunity in Virginia. For too long, we have seen Black men and women and people from other marginalized communities die at the hands of the police state and white supremacy. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Riah Milton, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others. Here in Virginia, we have Marcus-David Peters, and now Xzavier Hill. All of them should be alive today. 95% of civilians killed by police are killed with a firearm. In the United States, Black people are nearly three times more likely to be shot and killed by police than white people. Without true police accountability, we will continue to watch more people die as a result of police violence, and officers will get away with a slap on the wrist. Police violence and white supremacy will continue to run rampant if we are unwilling to hold bad actors accountable by passing meaningful reforms like this bill. Last summer, this General Assembly had the chance of ending qualified immunity to prevent further shootings and provide accountability to our communities. I watched that bill die in committee over the objections of the Black members of the committee, leaving me and countless others demanding more through protests, email and phone blasts, and other means. I am tired of watching the same story replay itself over and over again with different people losing their lives, police not being held accountable and politicians not listening to what the people demand. Now has to be the time to end qualified immunity. There is no other option. Police violence is gun violence. If we are dedicated to ending gun violence and dismantling systemic racism, we need to hold police responsible for killing BIPOC Americans. That starts with ending qualified immunity. I implore each of you to vote in support of HB2045, end qualified immunity here in the Commonwealth, and fully ensure that all Black Lives Matter. Thank you.
Vote no for hb2045!
This bill is misguided and will ultimately create many more problems than it will solve. No one stands to gain from this type of change. Rather than creating any type of accountability, this creates vulnerability and undue risk to members of a profession that already face life and death risks every day. And once their families and personal finances can be attacked as well, it will be too great a burden to bear and they'll walk away from the job, leaving a void. The communities once served by those officers will be the ones damaged by the void. This will affect every single resident of Virginia, including the very communities that supporters of this bill are claiming to want to protect. Police officers are members of our communities, too. They are reflective of the communities they serve - coming in every shade of black and brown and white. They are not punching bags that are required to serve a community actively taking steps to negatively impact them. Passing this bill doesn't hold some figurative "Police Officer" accountable. It means that your neighbor, a member of law enforcement, could lose his house because of the costs associated with fighting frivolous lawsuits, your nephew's college fund is decimated by legal fees and court costs that his mother has to pay for being a cop, a black or brown family's lifetime investments and financial security could be completely destroyed - because someone now knows they can get revenge on the police causing the family to pay exorbitant insurance premiums as protection from the risks of dad's job. While saying that you want accountability is a fine and noble thing - the actual method of obtaining that isn't as simple and HB2045 is absolutely not the right way to do it. I urge you to vote NO to HB2045.
Stop qualified immunity for police
Please do not support HB2045! It will not make Virginians safer, in fact it will make our communities less safe! Qualified Immunity does not give law enforcement officer carte blanche to do whatever they want. It does not place them above the law. It does protect good officers and the localities they work for from frivolous lawsuits. Without it, officers have no protection from anyone who does not like the outcome of their interaction with law enforcement. Qualified Immunity does not protect bad actors who have violated policy or law. Some of the reasons the repeal of Qualified Immunity would be a detriment to Virginia are: Qualified Immunity is an essential protection for good officers. Without it, Officers and their families will have to weigh the risks and decide if it is worth it to stay in the profession and if they leave, they will leave our great state with a public safety crisis. During the special session, many tried to find insurance companies that would insure officers should QI be removed. They were told multiple times that this type of insurance is not available to individuals, especially during a time of “civil unrest”, and the employer would have to purchase it. Spouses were told it could cost up to $40,000 per officer, per year, which is not affordable for law enforcement families. For localities to afford this would mean increased taxes on citizens. Attorney General Mark Herring has quoted an additional 12 roles in his office to support the repeal of Qualified Immunity. This means tax money to pay for them as well. If we want law enforcement officers to continue to rush toward danger to protect citizens of the Commonwealth, we cannot remove the limited immunity they have that allows them to do this without second guessing. Law enforcement officers are protected by qualified immunity when their actions do not violate a clearly established statutory or constitutional right. Removing this limited protection will diminish the level of protection ALL citizens of the Commonwealth deserve. Sincerely, Heather Duffett
I am in full support of this bill, it will help us keep our police force accountable and just. It will help bring faith back in to our justice system.
I urge you to vote no on eliminating qualified immunity. This will allow frivolous law suits against good cops. This expensive litigation will harm the families as they struggle to pay for legal fees to fight these lawsuits that could possibly cause them to lose their homes and livelihoods. Police Officers already miss valuable time away from their families during holidays and other family functions with very little pay. Spouses feel that the are single parents at times. But, they make these sacrifices so that their spouses can serve and protect. Now you will be asking them to risk their families financial security. No one will work as a police officer if you pass this Bill. It’s one thing for an officer to put themselves at risk, but not their family. Policing will become reactive instead of proactive. No one will put their families livelihood at risk. Let’s have an honest conversation on constructive reforms that will work. Reforms that don’t hurt good cops. I urge you to vote no on this bill.
HB2045 needs to be implemented. An individual's civil rights ought to be the paramount of importance and no one, public or private, should have protection or immunity if they have violated the civil rights of another individual. RPD and VSP violated the civil rights of countless individuals all summer; qualified immunity cannot be a shield to protect public servants who have committed these harms. The events of this summer have clearly illustrated how detrimental qualified immunity is to the health, safety, and equitable application of justice to the public; who are your constituents. Qualified Immunity needs to be stripped away and HB2045 is the first step.
My name is Sean Corcoran and I am the President of the Fairfax Coalition of Police, Local 5000, International Union of Police Associations. IUPA is proud to represent thousands of Law Enforcement Officers throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. I write to you today to ask you to VOTE NO on HB 2045, Civil Action for Deprivation of Rights; Duties and Liabilities of Certain Employers. This legislation is based on simply false assumptions, mainly that Law Enforcement Officers somehow take advantage of concepts like qualified or sovereign immunity to shield themselves from being held accountable. However, when looking at the data this is simply not true. In a Yale Law Journal article from October 2017, author Joanna Schwartz analyzed Section 1983 cases in five Federal Circuit Courts over a two-year period. Less than 4% of cases in which qualified immunity was raised was it actually granted. Furthermore, only .6% were dismissed at the motion to dismiss stage and 2.6% were dismissed at summary judgement on qualified immunity grounds. https://www.yalelawjournal.org/article/how-qualified-immunity-fails# While the article in no way is a ringing endorsement of qualified immunity, it does demonstrate that the data is not consistent with assumptions. Law Enforcement Officers are indeed held accountable, with matters actually moving through the process and being the subject of discovery and trial. Qualified immunity is rarely successful and does not shield officers. However, it does provide at least a small measure of protection from unreasonable litigation. Qualified Immunity isn’t a state. There is not some benchmark that is reached. Each case is analyzed on its own merits. This bill will not fix any problems that may be endemic to the concept of qualified immunity but only open up local jurisdictions and officers to arguably unreasonable litigation and undue financial burden. Furthermore, removing the concept of qualified immunity at the state level will continue to erode the morale of law enforcement officers and solidify the belief that they are being unfairly singled out and targeted. We again ask that you VOTE NO on this bill. And if it is to move forward, then it should be amended to impact all public employees that may find themselves in a position to raise qualified immunity, be they law enforcement officers, health workers, teachers, fire and rescue personnel or any other sector of public employment. Thank you, Sean Corcoran Fairfax Coalition of Police, Local 5000, IUPA email@example.com
Honorable Committee members, On behalf of the ACLU of Virginia and its more than 100,000 members and supporters in Virginia, we urge the committee to pass HB2045 that creates a way for community members to sue police for damages in state court without the shield of qualified immunity. Virginia needs law enforcement accountability now to protect Black and Brown communities from police violence. Police officers who use excessive force to hurt and kill Black and Brown people in violation of the federal constitution are seldom held accountable for their actions. Many use a defense called “qualified immunity” that was created by federal judges and acts as a shield against lawsuits by people and families that are harmed. It is time for Virginians to demand the same accountability for law enforcement officers as it has long demanded for others who commit crimes and perpetrate violence. Police in Virginia should not be above the law and should be held accountable in Virginia for harm caused to Virginians by their misconduct. To enable Virginians to hold police and their departments accountable for the damages caused by police misconduct, the Virginia General Assembly must pass a law that permits people to bring a lawsuit against police in Virginia courts under Virginia laws. This law must make clear that “qualified immunity” would not be allowed as a defense in state lawsuits. People and families that have suffered real harm deserve their day in court. Today, we hear about police shooting after police shooting where officers are rarely if ever held accountable by the criminal legal system, either because prosecutors decline to charge, because grand juries decline to indict, or because juries decline to convict. HB2045 is crafted in a way that allows individuals to hold police accountable for their actions, if those actions cause physical harm. No more, no less. We will not be the first state to do this and we will not be the last because the reality is that states across this country are saying no to police use of the shield of qualified immunity. Passing legislation to create a state cause of action would answer the call of Virginians who are demanding some mechanism for accountability for officers who use their power to harm Black and Brown people. The legal rights of Virginians should be decided in Virginia courts, by Virginia juries, with Virginia judges. Until law enforcement officers face the potential end of their careers for misconduct or they or their department face the likelihood of having to pay damages for the harm caused by their unconstitutional actions, they will continue to conduct themselves as if they are “invulnerable”. We can no longer be silent. The time for action is now. Vote yes on HB2045.
Due process and equal application of the law are foundational tenants of an effective justice system. Any individual that breaks the law should be held accountable for their actions. Currently public employees, including police officers, are shielded from accountability when they break the law or violate someone’s constitutional rights. Virginia can lead the way by removing this two-tiered standard and ensuring everyone is held accountable for their actions. That is why I support Delegate Bourne's HB2045
This is a crucial bill that the citizens of Richmond have been fighting to pass. After all the brutality and extreme force that the protesters faced due to Police violence, has to be taken into accountability. They beat, gassed and shot at young, old people and even children. This cannot go by while police officers get a slap in the wrist for physically, mentally and emotionally damaging someone and when a citizen tries it defend themselves they are met with heavily charges. END QUALIFIED IMMUNITY TO BRING JUSTICE TO THE CITY, TO BRING HARMONY TO THE PEOPLE. Pass the bill! End it.
Please pass HB 2045. Thank you, Megan
Removing Qualified Immunity does NOT protect bad police officers, it makes it so that an officer conducting lawful arrests is not sued for his home or more money than the family makes. No one hates bad cops more than good ones. Removing Qualified Immunity from prosecution for lawful actions does not solve the problem of bad officers. Bad officers can be held accountable for their actions without Qualified Immunity. The Supreme Court has ruled on this many times, and this matter should be for the courts to decide on a case by case basis - not by the legislature. Suppose that I am an officer making a lawful arrest; if the subject of the arrest fights the officer, the officer may use reasonable force to enact the arrest. Qualified Immunity prevents the arrested person from suing that officer for an assault enacted during the arrest. It does not protect unlawful or excessive force. Excessive force is already illegal! You will loose many good cops if this measure passes. I will not reside in a State that allows random people to sue good cops for doing their jobs lawfully.
Because of qualified immunity, RVA police continue to physically assault citizens. They will then write false felony charges on those citizens to do a quid-pro-quo swap in court, purge the felony charge in exchange for no excessive force lawsuit. The courts are complicit. I was assaulted by a cop while waiting for an ambulance and ended up in jail where I could have died from lack of medical attention. When a citizen had footage of a police officer refusing to arrest a man trying to drive under the influence of a schedule 6 substance, that police officer sent at least 6 officers to harass the citizen to purge the footage from the phone. Rather than protect the people from possible vehicular manslaughter, the cops came to arrest the citizen who was trying to protect them. Why? Because they can harass whoever gets in their way with impunity! It is clear at this point that Virginia police want this job so that they can be violent to people with no restrictions. The longer qualified immunity remains in the face of a looming threat of police violence, the more you are attracting violent criminals to the police force! Stop recruiting violent murderers, end qualified immunity.
It is time for law enforcement officers to be held accountable for their actions, same as all other citizens that commit crimes and perpetrate violence. The federal shield of qualified immunity is a barrier for change, and we cannot grow into a better country if our law enforcers suffer no consequences as a result of their own crimes. I urge you to pass Del. Bourne's HB2045 to end this injustice. Doing so may save lives.
We urge that you adopt a state law that denies qualified immunity & holds police accountable.
I support this bill. Qualified immunity allows for police abuse of power. It also makes the potential situations for accountability so narrow that it’s virtually impossible to hold police officers who abuse their power accountable. Qualified immunity is also one of the tools police unions use to keep “bad cops” on the force, preventing positive change even when police leaders want it. Finally, no other job has such protections. If I harm someone in my scientific research lab, the fault will be on me except under the most exceptional circumstances. It is up to police offices to keep calm and rational under stress and to know and follow regulations and best practices. They currently have no incentive to do so. End qualified immunity.
We need police held accountable for their actions and deny qualified immunity. Pass HB2045 NOW!!!
VOTE NO TO HB2045. Qualified Immunity does not protect bad officers. It protects the good ones AND THEIR FAMILIES. The ones still working despite the pandemic. The ones still working despite hateful rhetoric. HB2045 will not correct inequities, it will only victimize hardworking public servants, their families and small municipalities. Vote NO to HB2045
Citizens of Virginia are disgusted and tired of seeing law enforcement abuse their power. We have lost count of the number of civilians who have been harmed and murdered by law enforcement who received no repercussions for their problematic actions. Nearly all occupations have systems in place to reprimand those who do not follow conduct. Why are we allowing officers, who carry weapons and are capable of inflicting serious damage, to go unchecked? Would you be ok with your doctor or surgeon harming or killing you with no repercussion for their action? If we are going to have an effective group enforcing laws, they must be held accountable for their actions. End qualified immunity now.
End qualified immunity and hold police accountable to raise the level of policing in our communities. Thank you!
Black and brown communities are disproportionately impacted by the use of excessive force. Even Abrar Omeish, a Fairfax County School Board member, was pepper sprayed, forced out of her car, ridiculed, and forced to remove her head scarf for the mug shot. VA needs law enforcement accountability. There are thousands more like Abrar who may not have had the courage or platform to come forward. Police officers who use excessive force in violation of the federal constitution are seldom held accountable for their actions. I ask the members of this committee, to pass law that gives any Virginian harmed by police the unqualified right to bring action in a state court before a state judge to hold officials and their employers accountable for harm caused by their misconduct.
I would like to urge legislatures to pass HB 2045 and end qualified immunity and hold officers accountable for injustices committed.
I urge lawmakers to pass HB2045. We need to create trust between law enforcement and the community. This can not be achieved if police are not held accountable when they violate the rights of citizens. If we as citizens are accountable for our actions so too should the police.
It is imperative that we pass BH 2045 to kill Qualified Immunity. Police must be held accountable for violating citizens' rights and face appropriate consequences for their actions. They are sworn to protect and serve; not have free license to assault and MURDER community members with impunity.
I work as a public defender and watch the body camera footage of Virginia police every day. There must be a mechanism to hold them accountable for wrongdoing and we must end qualified immunity. Police impunity is harming our communities.
Hanover County opposes HB2045. The changes brought about by this bill would have an overall negative impact on the residents of Hanover County and throughout Virginia. While the goals of this bill—greater accountability for those who violate the rights of others under the color of law—are good ones, the process set up by this bill is an ineffective way to do so and would have significant negative impacts on the day-to-day operation of law enforcement throughout the state. This bill would result in a significant increase in costs to law enforcement—whether Sheriff’s offices or local police departments—that will be borne largely by local governments. This includes increased costs for hiring and training, the likely reduction in the numbers of dedicated men and women who wish to serve as law enforcement officers, and the exposure of local governments to an unlimited amount of liability from lawsuits filed against individuals deputies, officers, and their supervisors. This bill would also have an impact on the larger community. In Hanover, as in many other jurisdictions, law enforcement officers are used at private and community events. They direct traffic for those leaving church services, help to ensure the safety of those attending funerals, and work at school and other public gatherings. This bill will likely discourage the use of law enforcement officers in those situations. Hanover County agrees that those who violate clearly established standards should be held accountable, and that those supervising law enforcement officers have an obligation to ensure that they are appropriately trained and kept up-to-date as to whether practices and procedures conform with constitutional standards. However, this bill would create a financial burden on law enforcement, localities and, ultimately, the taxpayers, and the funds used to defend lawsuits and pay damages and attorneys’ fees would be better spent on increased training and supervision. Hanover County requests that you not report this bill.
To the Honorable Chairman Bourne and members of the Civil Subcommittee of the House Courts of Justice Committee: I've drafted this message on behalf of the citizens of Ashland and fully in keeping with the language of our Town Council's 2021 Legislative Agenda section on Criminal Justice Reform. Reform is absolutely necessary. But, as in any serious situation, surgical precision produces desired results while an amputation is extreme. We believe HB 2045 has the effect of an amputation, severing Ashland's citizens from the safety and security provided through our beloved Police Department. We value and appreciate every member of the Ashland Police Department for keeping us safe and working diligently, 24/7, putting themselves at risk to protect life and property, property often being a life’s investment. Virginians across the board need law enforcement officers to maintain the safety and protection of our communities. So, will you, our General Assembly Delegates, go negative on every police officer, across the board? Yes, horrific offences have occurred and the nation, with one voice, both mourned Mr. George Floyd’s murder and condemned those responsible for his death. Very sadly, he was not the first, the only, or even more sad still, likely not the last person of color to be denied “liberty and justice for all” by persons sworn to uphold the law. That should not be true in this or any society. But the situation of bad cops doing evil things will not be terminated by chasing good cops from their service to the people. The right strategy? Establishing uniform high standards for recruiting, assessing, hiring, training and retaining a police force that is fully accountable. The actual result of HB 2045 will be to reduce the pool of right minded, qualified law enforcement candidates for hire. Those individuals still willing to wear a badge will be few and far between. That leaves Ashland and other localities Statewide conducting bidding wars for quality law enforcement candidates. In addition to higher salary costs, we will also be challenged to afford the increased insurance liabilities that this Bill unleashes. These budget increases cut into good goals such as community policing and increased training. HB 2045 will hurt our ability to afford maintaining a quality police department at a time when surely, no one can afford a bad cop! Please, vote no on HB2045 regarding qualified immunity. Do the 'surgery' with patience and wisdom. Please, forego the amputations. Respectfully yours, Steve Trivett Steven P. Trivett Mayor Town of Ashland, VA STrivett@ashlandva.gov (804) 350-2432
This bill is short sighted to say the least and will have a chilling effect on how the communities that need police the most will be harmed. If this committee truly cares for minorities like me and others, let's put some money that will have a much larger impact such as economic reform, workforce development, improving educational system to reflect the realities of this century. This is nothing more than ideologically driven policy and will not have the desired effects. It will increase the cost to our local municipalities and guess what we will be stuck with the bill. Qualified Immunity has not prevented police/sheriff from being sued for wrong doings. It only protects them if they are operating within the law from frivolous law suits. Hope common sense prevails.
I urge the subcommittee to support HB2045 and end qualified immunity in Virginia. Residents who are mistreated by police should have legal recourse. After years of seeing police killings where the officer faces no consequences, it’s clear qualified immunity doesn’t work and hurts trust between police and the communities they serve.
Please support this bill to deny qualified immunity and hold police accountable. Qualified immunity has been used to excuse all manner of gratuitous violence by police, especially against people of color.
This bill will no NOTHING other than reduce the number of qualified people who may seek to enter the profession. It will stress police agencies to fill duty slots because their will be a definite exodus from the profession if this bill passes. Have you given any consideration to the cost burden it will place on the individual officer ? With a salary of 40k, 20k will go to insurance. Do the math..... Bad Bill Bad consequences Bad Intention Bad all the way around except for criminals
Vote NO for this bill!! This proposal is reckless legislation that puts law abiding citizens at risk and emboldens criminals and will lead to a surge in crime throughout the state.
Community safety is important to all of us. I believe everyone in our community regardless of race, ethnicity, faith, or lack of faith should be treated with fairness and respect. I think it is very important for our officers to be held liable for not following policies made by their department and/or breaking any laws. However, HB 2045 seeks to hold officers liable even when they try to do their jobs with their best intentions. This bill will make it difficult for agencies to retain and hire law enforcement officers due to the liabilities this bill will cause. This bill seeks to remove the applicability of qualified immunity and sovereign immunity to civil litigation's for deprivation of any person’s constitutional rights, privileges, or immunity's by a law enforcement officer, including failure to intervene. However, doing so will cause a huge liability to law enforcement officers and the agencies they work for. There is already a system in place where qualified immunity will not apply, and that is when an officer does something unreasonable considering the circumstances (such as using excessive force). Taking qualified immunity away will create difficult situations, every possible action (or inaction) would result in a negative outcome or cause our officers' trouble; there is no course of action that does not have a drawback. This will lead to officers second guessing on the job on how they respond to situations, which in turn can put them more at harm or risk. In addition, due to the high liability this puts on officers, they may avoid working additional details put out by churches, neighborhood HOA’s and local businesses to avoid any possibility of civil litigation. Additionally, local governments would be liable for law enforcement and be subject to greater financial risk and increased frivolous litigation. Not to mention, this bill puts the financial burden to retain legal representation onto the officers and only allows them to be reimbursed if the lawsuits are proven to be frivolous. This puts law enforcement officers’ family’s financial security at risk and does not consider the hardships that the families will face while waiting for the verdict and repayment if it turns out to be a frivolous lawsuit. Let alone the additional stress this may put on the officer on an already highly stressful job. Furthermore, it is my understanding that the legislation passed during the Special Session already sets the precedence of Officer Code of Conduct that eliminated the applicability of immunity defenses, which makes this bill unpractical. In the Special Session last year our state government passed a bill that required all departments to become accredited by CALEA. CALEA does an excellent job holding law enforcement accountable and has high standards as far as training and setting the precedence for policing. In addition, they are big on community outreach. If what you seek is accountability, transparency and highly trained officers, then CALEA Accreditation is your answer and you only need to give it some time for the departments across the state to catch up to the departments in the state that are already accredited and have a positive impact in their communities; such as Prince William County Police Department who has a 96% satisfaction rating which is higher than the National Average which falls at 56% and they have been 100% accredited by CALEA for over 30 years. I urge you all to Vote NO to HB2045.
I urge you to vote no on HB2045. While criminal justice reform is needed, this is the wrong answer. I have the privilege of representing police unions and police officers here in the Commonwealth, and my clients have answered the call time and time again to protect their communities. This bill will only serve to make those officers hesitate in situations where officers and civilians are at serious risk of injury or death. Even if limiting qualified immunity were the answer, it is completely unfair to allow the employer -- rather than the courts -- the sole discretion to determine good faith and reasonable belief. All public employees enjoy qualified immunity. There is absolutely no reason to take this defense away from the one group of public servants who must be brave enough to be willing to jump into the most dangerous situations to protect their communities' citizens.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I want to take a moment to express the concerns of the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association with HB2045. As drafted, the measure would burden hospitality and tourism related businesses that hire private security for their establishment. Making these businesses liable for private security that they hire would impose significant issues on restaurants, hotels, campgrounds, and entertainment venues. Considering the civil unrest and resulting destruction of property at many restaurants and hotels over the summer in Richmond, this measure creates some significant concerns for our organization. For example, the one of our hotel members in Richmond closed on March 20th as a result of COVID-19. They had planned to have staff come back to the establishment in mid-May. Unfortunately, as a result sustained significant property damage and destruction related to the unrest in the downtown area that occurred they pushed their reopening until July. This resulted in many additional staff remaining unemployed for a longer period of time, and also caused the hotel to lose additional revenue. After the hotel reopened they had to hire private security to protect the establishment. Under this measure, they would be liable for the actions taken by the private security to protect the property. We urge you to oppose this measure as currently drafted.
We urge our Virginia Legislature to provide the same accountability for law enforcement that it has long demanded for others who commit violent crimes. HB 2045 is a reasonable solution to allow Virginians who have been harmed by unjustified police misconduct to sue police in Virginia courts, with Virginia juries and judges. The tragic death of George Floyd is a wake-up call to all of us that law enforcement officers and their employers must be held accountable for unjustified police violence. Families that have suffered real harm deserve their day in court.
HB 2045 Civil action for deprivation of rights; duties and liabilities of certain employers. Support Who we are: ACLU People Power Fairfax is an independent grassroots organization that advocates for equal justice for all members of the community, including undocumented immigrants, regardless of race or ethnicity. Our primary goals are to end local and state government’s voluntary cooperation with ICE and to correct practices and policies that support systemic racism in our law enforcement. There are over 4,000 People Power volunteers in Fairfax. Our efforts reflect the views of our members, not necessarily those of the ACLU Virginia affiliate. Federal courts have given police a free pass called "qualified immunity" that keeps them from being held accountable under federal civil rights laws for the injuries they cause. We cannot change that – only the United States Congress can. We can, however, ask and must expect our Virginia legislature to pass a law ensuring that police and their employers aren't immune from being held accountable in court to pay Virginians damages when on-the-job misconduct of police results in death or serious injury. We must pass a law that gives any Virginian harmed by police the unqualified right to bring an action in a state court before a state judge to hold the police officer and their employer accountable for harm caused by their misconduct. Submitted: Diane Burkley Alejandro and Laurel Kent firstname.lastname@example.org
HB2064 - Recording an electronic document; electronic notarial certificate.
I'd like to be added to the que to speak
HB2193 - Settlement agreements; staying of dismissal.
We urge that you adopt a state law that denies qualified immunity & holds police accountable.
We are concerned about lines 24-26. What does “other appropriate relief” mean? We suggest the following amendment : Delete "other appropriate relief" and insert through entry of judgment for entry of judgment for any remaining amount owed under the written settlement agreement.