Letter to the Editor: Bill Seeks to Remove ‘Qualified Immunity’ for Washington’s Law Enforcement Officers


A bill coming up this session is HB 1025. It is a bill that will open up each and every law enforcement officer and private security guard to nuisance litigation, and will also transfer liability to the hiring jurisdiction in many cases.

The bill creates what it calls a new “private right of action for harm 2 from violations of the state Constitution or state law by peace 3 officers,” allowing individuals to sue law enforcement for just about any reason, while they are performing their duty.

As an example, if a law enforcement officer arrests a person who is resisting, and the suspect’s feelings are hurt, the arresting officer can be sued and held personally liable.

In effect, the bill seeks to remove “qualified immunity,” which simply says an officer must act as a reasonable law enforcement officer would act.

Removed qualified immunity will make apprehending suspects impossible and will lead to even more crime.

Section 5 of the bill says the law should be interpreted “liberally,” which by intent creates an ambiguous law.

“This chapter must be liberally construed to effect its beneficial and remedial purposes.”

An ambiguous law is very dangerous because on one hand it is unreliably enforceable, meaning it can not be enforced equally and also lead to confusion by having no idea how it might be applied.

C. Davis,