Brendan Cox, the former Albany chief of police and a member of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, has penned an op-ed in the Albany Times Union supporting S 1991, the bill to end qualified immunity (QI) in New York. Cox joins a growing list of policing veterans, such as Wayne Harris, Dave Myers, and Diane Goldstein, speaking out against the unconstitutional doctrine.
“It is a difficult time to be a police officer in the state of New York,” Cox notes. The reason for this, he says, is the glaring lack of trust between the police and the communities they serve, due to the absence of police accountability. Without accountability, “we lose legitimacy in the eyes of those we serve, making community members less likely to cooperate with us.”
Cox, who served in the Albany Police Department for over two decades, knows that restoring trust is absolutely crucial to bolstering community relationships. “Trust-building is not an optional, feel-good extracurricular activity for police, it is a core responsibility with a direct link to public safety,” he states. Ending qualified immunity “is key to restoring this trust and building public safety in our state.”
In his op-ed, Cox acknowledges that QI is “deeply unpopular,” both in New York and nationwide. Recent statewide polling revealed that an outright majority of New Yorkers, 58 percent, favor repealing the rule. A Pew Research poll conducted in June 2020 found that “two-thirds of Americans say that civilians need to have the power to sue police officers in order to hold them accountable for misconduct and excessive use of force.” Thus, abolishing QI “will make police work easier” by getting rid of the biggest obstacle to public safety and public trust.
The bottom line, Brendan Cox says, is that passing S 1991 will reassure the public that “the rule of law applies equally to everyone.” Ending qualified immunity for bad cops, the former police chief reiterates, “would strengthen the ties between police and the people we swore an oath to protect and serve.”
Read the entire Brendan Cox op-ed here.