A recent op-ed in Utah’s Salt Lake City Tribune calls for qualified immunity (QI) reform. Ethan Dursteler wrote this op-ed. Per the Tribune, Dursteler works as the government affairs and public policy coordinator for the National Football League (NFL). A number of prominent NFL members belong to the Players Coalition. This group of more than 1,000 pro athletes supports ending qualified immunity. The Players Coalition is part of the Campaign to End Qualified Immunity.
In his Salt Lake Tribune op-ed that calls for QI reform, Ethan Dursteler shares the story of Amy Corbitt. As Dursteler narrates, a bad cop shot and injured Corbitt’s 10-year-old son during a police chase that landed at Corbitt’s backyard. When Amy Corbitt sued for damages, the officer claimed qualified immunity. A court sided with the bad cop. Ultimately, he faced no accountability.
“This horrible situation,” Ethan Dursteler writes in his Salt Lake Tribune op-ed, illustrates “the need for common-sense reform of qualified immunity.” (Amy Corbitt’s story appears in Ben Cohen’s new book, Above the Law: How “Qualified Immunity” Protects Violent Police.)
In his op-ed, Dursteler explains what qualified immunity is and why it’s wrong. As Ethan Dursteler writes in the Salt Lake City Tribune, QI “asserts that police officers can violate the constitutional rights of American citizens, and not be held accountable.”
Dursteler dispels some myths about the controversial doctrine. For example: ending QI will deter cops from doing their job. (“This is false,” he states flat-out.) As Ethan Dursteler clarifies, QI reform only deters bad cops, not good cops. Good cops act reasonably under all circumstances. Bad cops don’t. Thus, ending QI will affect bad cops who act unreasonably. QI reform will hold bad cops accountable.
Ethan Dursteler also expresses disappointment that the Utah Legislature for “[failing] to advance a bill that would reform qualified immunity in reasonable ways.” In his Salt Lake Tribune op-ed, he calls on state lawmakers to make Utah “a leader” in enacting “common sense reforms to hold police accountable.”
“Our republic was founded on the very idea that all human beings are created equal and that governments exist to protect the natural rights of citizens,” Ethan Dursteler concludes. “Qualified immunity…is an affront to this founding American ideal.”
Read the entire Salt Lake Tribune op-ed calling for QI reform here.