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My first question would be why? I haven't gotten the impression that TORT litigation on a massive scale against law enforcement officers is a widespread problem. And if we are going to make them immune, how about schools and teachers? Firemen? You see where I'm going with this?
The civil system of lawsuits and resolution is there for a reason, and I do not think limiting TORT lawsuits against law enforcement serves any widespread public good.
I agree with number 2, but I think this is an excellent question. Many people feel that law enforcement officers can act as cowboys, doing injury to citizens but immune to consequences. However, if people in law enforcement constantly fear legal action, they will be unable to do their jobs. Law enforcement agencies do need to be a better job of policing their officers and regulating their behavior. Tying them up in court is not going to solve the problem though.
I would say no. Law enforcement officers should be shielded from some elements of tort law. For example, tort law can be used to punish trespass. If a law officer "trespasses" in the course of his or her duty, tort law should not apply. However, other elements of tort law not only should apply to law officers, they essentially must. An example here would be responding to false imprisonment. The very idea of false imprisonment is that there should be some legal strictures, and that there is such a thing as true or appropriate imprisonment. That directly applies to law officers, and should.
I do not feel that law enforcement officers should in any way be immune from tort action. Tort law can be defined as civil wrongdoing, rather than criminal wrongdoing. In some cases, such as destruction of property or tresspassing, as gbeatty mentioned, certain police officers may be more inclined to abuse their immunity to tort action, therefore performing illegal searches and potentially falsely or wrongfully incriminating people. Police officers may also use this newfound immunity to tort action in their non work lives as well, which would of course violate the one principle that this country was founded on, that all are created equal and everyone should be held equal in the eyes of the law, including those who serve it.
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