“2021 has proven to be a groundbreaking year for police accountability,” reports the Pew Center. Although federal efforts to pass police reform have stalled in the Senate, it’s a different story on a state level. In fact, it’s a more promising story. “State lawmakers across the country made sweeping changes to policing this year on a wide array of issues,” Pew Center notes. One of these issues: qualified immunity (QI).
In 2020, George Floyd’s murder at the hands of bad ex-cop Derek Chauvin shook the world. As a result, thousands took to the streets in protest. Many lawmakers noticed. In response, “more than 3,000 law enforcement-related bills have been introduced by state lawmakers,” the Pew Center says. For example, these bills include provisions to restrict no-knock warrants, decertify bad cops, and require the adoption of body cameras. And, of course, to end qualified immunity.
Currently, two states have eliminated the doctrine outright. These are Colorado and New Mexico. Plus, Connecticut reformed the rule. Meanwhile, New York City recently became the largest municipality in the nation to limit QI.
Furthermore, the number of states targeting QI continues to grow. As the Pew Center indicates, Washington, California, Illinois, and Virginia are among the states addressing police accountability.
“I’ve never seen a surge of legislative activity like this,” Brandon Garrett tells the Pew Center. Garrett is the director of the Duke Law Wilson Center for Science and Justice. “What makes this past year exciting,” Garrett explains, “was not just the number of bills, but legislators touching on subjects that have never been touched before”
One of these legislators is Virginia State Senator Mamie Locke. She’s sponsored her state’s police reform package. Senator Locke, like many other state legislators, is optimistic. Across the country, people want change. Real change. Senator Locke believes that, on a state level, change is within reach.
“The tide is shifting in terms of the need for reform,” Senator Locke tells the Pew Center. And the growing momentum in the fight to end qualified immunity clearly indicates that shift.
Read the entire article on how 2021 has been a groundbreaking year for police accountability here.