Area law enforcement officers discuss importance of qualified immunity

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Law enforcement officers within Wisconsin’s 3rd District are sharing their thoughts on calls for police reform.

On Thursday Jessi Ebben, a former public information officer working alongside law enforcement, and a current Republican congressional candidate running against Rep. Ron Kind, sat down with Sheriffs and Police Chiefs from our area for a live-streamed listening session.

They discussed the importance of qualified immunity, the impact defunding would have on departments, among other topics.

One purpose of qualified immunity is the protection from civil lawsuits, which means officers are not held liable for actions taken on the job unless they clearly violate an established law.

Without it, they could be sued for making decisions in good faith.

The Monroe County Sheriff, Wesley Revels, says not having it may steer people away from policing careers or cause current officers to leave the force.

“I don’t know of any law enforcement officers that are willing to put themselves in a situation of personal liability, where they might lose financially, they might lose their homes, it might cause them bankruptcy, it may impact their wages, that is extremely problematic.”

Recently, Rep. Ron Kind supported a Democratic-sponsored bill, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020.

One part of the bill is making it easier for civilians to sue police officers.

It passed in the House 236-181.

Republicans say they will not consider any changes to qualified immunity.

The bill has been sent to the Senate for review.

To see the full listening session, click here.