In a recent op-ed for the NY Daily News, Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s and co-chair of the Campaign to End Qualified Immunity, calls out qualified immunity (QI) and advocates for the bill to eliminate the doctrine in New York State.
“I support law enforcement — good law enforcement. And there are lots of great officers serving New York with integrity,” Cohen writes in the NY Daily News. “But the truth is, the system of public safety as it stands is completely broken.”
QI, Ben Cohen argues, is responsible for our current public safety crisis because it lets bad cops off the hook when they commit egregious acts. Abolishing the court-created rule will strengthen public safety by ensuring that “rogue officials face accountability when they shatter the public’s trust.”
New York can rid itself of the unconstitutional loophole through passage of S 1991, sponsored by Senator Robert Jackson and Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter.
However, time is of the essence. As Cohen mentions, there’s only a number of weeks left until the legislative session ends. Thus, it’s “imperative that Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie bring this bill to a floor vote.”
Cohen goes on to discuss the racist history of QI. He also assures NY Daily News readers that, despite what the doctrine’s defenders claim, ending QI isn’t anti-police. Rather, “it’s pro-justice, pro-accountability and pro-civil rights.”
Furthermore, he points out that unlike similar measures that passed in Colorado, New Mexico, and California, S 1991 isn’t focused solely on law enforcement. “What makes this bill particularly outstanding,” he writes, “is that corrections officers and other government employees will also face the consequences” if they violate an individual’s rights.
“I’m proud to be from New York, born and raised,” concludes Ben Cohen. “And I want New York to make its residents proud by ending qualified immunity.”
Read the entire NY Daily News op-ed here.