Dick Sears, the state senator sponsoring a new bill to end qualified immunity (QI) in Vermont, has written an op-ed for the Manchester Journal. In his piece, he explains how abolishing QI “will help restore trust in community policing” in the Green Mountain State.
“The elected lawmakers of the Vermont Legislature have never directly looked at the issue of qualified immunity, which doesn’t make sense,” Dick Sears remarks. “So, I’ve introduced a bill modeled on recent bipartisan laws passed in other states, such as Colorado.”
Senator Sears and other policymakers drafted this bill in response to public demand: a recent poll showed that an overwhelming majority of Vermonters—3 out of 4—favor ending qualified immunity.
“If a Vermonter who is harmed by an unreasonable violation of their civil rights loses work, sustains injuries causing medical bills, or has their reputation tarnished, the law should offer them more than, ‘Sorry, no justice for you. Good luck. You are on your own,’” says Dick Sears. Rather, the law should prioritize the safety and well-being of all citizens, and allow victims of police abuse to seek recourse in civil court.
What makes Vermont’s bill so effective is that it’s designed to balance civil rights and civil policing. This bill is not anti-police—far from it. In fact, fixing the current imbalance by ending qualified immunity is pro–good cop, as repealing the doctrine will ‘boost police officers’ confidence in their good faith policing.”
As Dick Sears explains, “Like most people, I support police officers. They are essential to public safety. I also believe in civil rights, and the right to redress if you have been harmed by the government.”
Read the entire Dick Sears op-ed here.