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Thursday, September 3, 2020

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

To the men and women of Virginia law enforcement, this week our hearts are with you.

Only a few days after state Democrats introduced Senate Bill 5032, legislation that would, among other things, eliminate mandatory minimums for assaults on police officers, Democratic lawmakers (led by sponsor Del. Jeff Bourne, Richmond Democrat) on the House Appropriations Committee revived — yes, you read that correctly — House Bill 5013, intended to end qualified immunity for law enforcement.


Qualified immunity is a judicial doctrine intended to protect government officials (and by extension, the men and women in law enforcement) from civil damages. In short, unless it can be shown the offending official infringed upon “clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known,” they are protected from being sued as individuals.

To be clear, the function of this protection is not, as some on the left would have you believe, to shield, say, police officers for any and all wrongdoing. For evidence against this argument, take a look around at the number of women and men in uniform now in legal jeopardy for crimes real, and of late, imagined. Instead, it’s to buffer against frivolous lawsuits.

And so, though it may not appear immediately evident, it’s impossible to overstate the negative ramifications the desire by Virginia Democrats to score political points with the mob will have on the state. In the unlikely (we hope) event this piece of legislation ends up passing the Senate where, thankfully, a version of this bill has once before been voted down, two things will happen almost immediately. First, police officers will likely retire en mass and quit in search of jobs where they are more appreciated. And second few — if any — qualified candidates will rise up to fill depleted ranks.

And why should they? Why join an organization politicians promise to defund, prosecute and generally denigrate? If this legislation is passed, what reasonable expectation of support does a young person in the academy have? It is total financial ruin for them and their families that every single officer faces for simply doing their job in difficult situations.

In May, the Virginia State Police Department released its 2019 comprehensive “Crime in Virginia” report. The big conclusion: There was an increase in violent crime for the year. What do you think the 2020 report will show when there aren’t officers left to patrol the streets?

While Virginian citizens consider this question, local criminals toast state Democrats for their good fortune.


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