Police officers have some immunity from being sued if they shoot and hurt or kill someone on the job. Congressman Jim Banks, a Republican, says he’s written a law to protect that principle, known as qualified immunity.
“If one party or some were trying to strip it, the I wrote the bill to try to protect qualified immunity, that I introduced last week,” said Banks, who represents northeast Indiana, in Washington. Qualified immunity has never been passed as a law in Congress, but has been upheld in court.
Banks said he did not think much about the issue until the riots and protests on police reform.
“The nation was having a conversation about social justice and police reforms and the Democrats passed a bill out of the House of Representatives that would have, among other things, stripped qualified immunity from our law enforcement officers.”
Banks said Democrats and Republicans agree on many of the issues within police reform, but not on that.
“It would ensure law enforcement officers that many in elected office are intent on doing what we can to support them.”
Banks said his bill, which codifies, or would make qualified immunity a law, has the support of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the Indiana State Police Alliance, the National Center for Police Defense and the Police Officers Defense Coalition.
Banks, in a Monday interview, also talked about Pres. trump’s executive orders, which the president said will help American families who are having to deal with the economic consequences of the pandemic and ensuing shutdown.
“Whether it’s lawful or not, the president did it to show leadership and he’s daring the Supreme Court to come in and strike it down,” said Banks. He said he believes the president’s actions may help restart negotiations that broke down last week, on a new coronavirus relief bill.
“I myself, as a member of Congress, would much rather those issues be debated and passed by the legislative process. But, in the absence of Congress doing anything, the president is doing something,” he said.
Banks said the orders are instructing different agencies to “look into doing this or that”, and not ordering the actions outright.
Some Democrats were angry about the orders and believe they would be defeated in court.
Banks said the negotiations broke down over price, with Democrats pushing a $3 trillion version with money to help states, and Republicans pushing a $1 trillion bill.