(Joshua Paladino, Headline USA) President Joe Biden plans to sign executive orders to reform policing in America after debate and compromise stalled in Congress, but that decision to use executive power rather than law could cause the changes to falter, The Washington Times reported.
The White House has not released extensive details about the executive orders, though activists expect Biden to announce them in February.
One likely proposal, however, stands out among the rest: Biden may eliminate qualified immunity for police officers.
Qualified immunity prevents citizens and organizations from suing police officers for actions that they take while in uniform. This policy gives police officers the freedom to enforce the law without fearing reprisal from the public or from criminals, though it also can lead to abuse.
National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd said his organization will immediately sue the Biden administration if it tries to remove qualified immunity through executive action.
“We believe that it is unconstitutional,” he said.
Leaders like Judd have said that the White House has not included them on debates surrounding the executive orders.
The Democrat-controlled House could pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would have ended qualified immunity, but the closely divided Senate could not reach an agreement.
Senate Republicans said that ending qualified immunity would result in an overwhelming amount of litigation targeting police officers.
“I think there’s a recognition and a commitment by the president to deliver on what he promised,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week.
National Sheriffs Association President Vernon Stanforth called the buzz surrounding the elimination of qualified immunity “alarming,” especially because the White House has not consulted with him.
“Law enforcement, at least from my involvement as the national president, has not been at the table with the White House and looking at any of these issues,” he said.
“They’re just gonna issue this executive order, we think, anytime now,” he said, “and it’s going to have a tremendous negative impact on our recruitment and our retention on maintaining our drug task force if they’re affiliated with federal entities.”