To the extent that public tort law can serve as a viable mechanism for law enforcement accountability, revamping tort claims acts, including statutory privileges and indemnification regulations, may serve as a greater vehicle for reform than eliminating qualified immunity.
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On Tuesday, June 16, at 2:30 p.m., the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to discuss police use of force and community relations. The committee will hear testimony from various government witnesses and other experts, including Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S.
The protests ignited by the police killing of George Floyd have put a spotlight on the legal doctrine of qualified immunity—one of many structural factors that makes it difficult to hold police officers accountable for wrongdoing.
Americans have taken to the streets in dozens of cities to protest the death of George Floyd, police brutality, and systemic racism. President Trump has focused his attention on looting and violence, which he calls “domestic terror” and insisted governors “dominate” the protestors. The gang talks about the role of the military and the Insurrection Act, the role of Bill Barr and the Justice Department, and Trump’s use of other federal forces as America heads into another day of public demonstration amidst a still raging pandemic.
The potential for expanded interior Homeland Security law enforcement activity raises questions about whether components of the department being called upon are subject to appropriate training, preparation and accountability.
If President Trump wants to follow through on his threats to deploy the military around the country, he may have to push one of America’s oldest emergency laws to its limits.
Dr. Rashawn Ray is a David M. Rubenstein fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. He's also an associate professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he directs the Lab for Applied Social Science Research (LASSR). He is a scholar of, among other things, police-civilian relations and has done a lot of work on police-involved killings. He joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss the mechanisms of police violence, what causes it, what can be done to address it and reduce it, and the role of race in this problem.
The numerous layers of this crisis to which Congress must respond grow daily, and some have more barriers to bipartisanship than others.