FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Columbus, GA – Former Mayor and Public Safety Director, now Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Teresa Tomlinson announces today that she will lead federal legislative efforts to revise the 1967 judicial doctrine of “qualified immunity” which severely and unreasonably limits all civil liability of law enforcement agencies and officers in incidents of brutal killings, such as the most recent killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Tomlinson issued the following statement:
“There is no doubt that governments need various levels of sovereign immunity to protect the public purse and to allow them to make politically challenging decisions such as issuing Stay-At-Home Orders in the face of a deadly pandemic without being deluged by lawsuits for economic damages. Likewise, police officers and the governments they serve need protection from liability and harassing lawsuits arising from the performance of their jobs to protect and serve–even when mistakes are made. But in no event is the law intended to protect the ruthless, brutal or racially motivated acts of law enforcement officers. There are legions of honorable, well-trained law enforcement officers who hold themselves and their colleagues to the highest standards, and they would not tolerate such conduct in the pursuit of justice and order. A doctrine intended to protect the public purse and individual officers from financial assault for reasonable errors in judgment in extraordinary and uncertain circumstances has now become a shield for the most egregious and brutal behavior.
As the next U.S. Senator from Georgia, I will lead the effort to legislatively amend Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act to modify the judicial doctrine of “qualified immunity,” thereby beginning to reverse the increasing public distrust of our judicial system and law enforcement officers. Such distrust erodes our civic stability as a national community and puts officers at risk. We cannot tolerate it any longer. All citizens – particularly citizens of color — must be assured that they will be free from governmental abuse and brutality. And when those circumstances of abuse and brutality occur, all citizens must be assured that justice shall be done.”
In addition, Tomlinson will urge through Senate oversight and funding that the Department of Justice (DOJ) facilitate the full implementation of President Barack Obama’s Task Force Recommendations on 21st Century Policing in all twenty thousand law enforcement agencies throughout this country and the full restoration of the DOJ’s Community Oriented Policing Services program.
“These are real proposed solutions to the challenges that are ripping us apart as a people,” Tomlinson said. “The federal government can be both a leader and a partner in improving policing for our communities, for our officers and for the people we serve.”
As Mayor and Public Safety Director for Columbus, Georgia, Tomlinson urged similar reforms at the state level as early as October of 2016. See attached proposed Legislative Agenda, Item 8.
View Tomlinson’s video statement: These Are Perilous Times.