Bedford County Passes Resolution Opposing Repeal of Qualified Immunity

 

The Bedford County Board of Supervisors (BOS) unanimously passed a resolution repudiating efforts to repeal qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that provides extra protection to law enforcement officers from personal liability while on-duty unless they commit willful misconduct. An effort to repeal qualified immunity was defeated in the Virginia Senate during the recent special session.

“Bedford County opposes any legislative repeal or revision of the judicial doctrine of qualified immunity and urges the County’s delegation to the General Assembly to oppose any such effort,” the supervisors state through the resolution.

The resolution was presented by Sheriff Mike Miller, and was quickly passed without any discussion. Miller told the BOS that although qualified immunity was defeated in 2020, he and his command staff had heard concern from deputies over future action the General Assembly might take.

Miller said, “As we’ve talked this year to our deputies, one of the major concerns and worries that they have is the way qualified immunity was thrown around in Richmond, and I don’t think it was taken as seriously as it should have been taken in Richmond,” Miller said. “This does not protect those who are involved in criminal conduct or misbehavior. It protects everyone else from frivolous civil suits.”

Bedford considered the resolution on December 14, the same day a large crowd showed up to advocate a First-Amendment Sanctuary resolution. A nearly-identical pro-qualified immunity resolution was passed unanimously by Augusta County in November, according to NBC29.

The Bedford resolution states, “[L]egislative repeal or revision of qualified immunity would manifestly harm law enforcement by putting law enforcement officers at constant risk of unjustified lawsuits for almost every action they take.” It adds, “[A]ny legislative repeal or revision of qualified immunity would require the taxpayers of Bedford County to pay for the defense of any and every claim against law enforcement officials, no matter how frivolous or unjustified.”

The resolution continues, “[E]fforts at repeal or revision represent ill-advised prejudice against the men and women of law enforcement who put their lives on the line every day to protect public safety.”

Miller said, “No lucid person would knowingly assume the requirements of a law enforcement officer without the safeguards qualified immunity affords. Those who lack the legal knowledge would invent opportunities to seek civil judgements against officers who acted within the law.”

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network.  Email tips to [email protected]

 

 

 

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