Written by: Mogale Tsebane
Edited by: Jenna Jokhani
The rise in global media coverage of police brutality has shone some light on deeply rooted problems with policing on a global scale. This seems to be a more worrying matter in countries such as the USA where police misconduct seems to be advocated by its constitution. You might be thinking that I’m being completely ridiculous and there’s no possible way that the leaders of The Free World could allow that, right? Well, this might not be entirely true as it seems that the American Police force is continuously failing to do their sole purpose, “To Serve and Protect”
What is the problem?
The problem lies in the legal doctrine of Qualified Immunity. This doctrine serves more bad than it does good. As it essentially exempts police officers from accepting any sort of accountability while on duty. This is more concerning when people, black people, lose their lives to the people who are entrusted to protect them. The doctrine of Qualified Immunity fundamentally states that a police officer can only be held accountable for the violation of a human right on the premise that the violation was previously established. The doctrine more distinctly focuses on those last 2 words “previously established” which means that unless a particular incident occurs in the exact same manner as a previously established violation then the offender may not be prosecuted. This makes suing and prosecuting police officers, who’ve unjustifiably violated a civilians human rights, almost impossible. This doctrine essentially grants American police officers exemption from any legal liability while on duty.
Furthermore; this is more frightening as the American Police force is very clearly over funded. The United States spends an astonishing $100 billion on its police force per annum. This as well as the heavy militarisation of American law enforcement, the lack of accountability and the questionable training that police officers receive, all contribute to the rise of police misconduct in America. The police are essentially above the law, on the condition that they wear the badge.
It is evident that American police enforcement and the American justice system requires major reform, more importantly the Doctrine of Qualified immunity, police training, gun laws and police funding. American State funding needs to be allocated more equally amongst other essential services provided by the government. Services such as the public health care system, youth and community development programs and jobs programs.
Just as importantly, pivotal political leaders and the American congress need to reevaluate and ameliorate the Doctrine of Qualified Immunity. The doctrine has crucial value as it fundamentally protects officers who are unfairly sued or prosecuted. However; it does leave real violations of human rights unmet by justice. This is where congress needs to adjust the doctrine, so police misconduct can be met with the necessary legal proceedings and justice may be rightly served.
https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/qualified_immunity https://youtu.be/1ykz06qH6kU https://youtu.be/I9w841nrIBg