The American Civil Liberties Union in Vermont wants to end ‘qualified immunity’ in Vermont and are set to introduce a bill in the upcoming session. Qualified immunity protects law enforcement officers from lawsuits and supporters of ACLU say it’s a barrier for justice and prevents many people from getting their day in court.

Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s said, “It is absurd that police who we hire to uphold the law are not held accountable when they break the law,”

In a press conference earlier today, ACLU Vermont and supporters emphasized their message that rogue cops need to be held accountable and that putting an end to ‘qualified immunity’ is a step in the right direction in doing that.

Diane Goldstein of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership said, “It will not bring open season upon law enforcement, it will simply allow judges to hear cases of the most egregious cases, which are currently causing the public perception that police are above the law.”

The Vermont Senate will take up a bill in January allowing victims of police misconduct to seek compensation when their rights are violated. Senator Dick Sears is sponsoring the bill. “This will have little or no impact on most police officers but to an injured person, it can mean everything.”

This remains a nationwide issue with advocates pointing to a case in California where a judge dismissed claims against officers accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars while executing a search warrant.

Steffan Gillom, an individual with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Windham County recalls being pulled over four times on the same street within a year. “I was one of the lucky ones,” said Gillom. “Make no mistake, I was still profiled, and every time I drive by that street where I was pulled over time and time again, it stays with me.”

The legal doctrine was initially put into place to protect officers from honest, good faith mistake of judgement.

“It actually hurts the law enforcement community itself because by shielding unprofessional officers and telling the public that they cannot be held liable even for egregious misconduct, the doctrine undermines public trust and confidence in law enforcement.”