MILWAUKEE — Members of Milwaukee's Common Council urged President Joe Biden in a letter Friday to use his authority to ban the use of qualified immunity for police officers in wrongful death lawsuits.
While the newly sworn-in president is likely receiving a number of requests these days, Biden has been vocal of his opposition to police brutality. During a visit to Wisconsin during the presidential campaign last year, Biden said he supports reforming qualified immunity, which shields police officers from victims' lawsuits.
Seven of the Common Council's 15 members signed a formal letter to President Biden on Friday. They are:
- Nikiya Dodd
- Nik Kovac
- Robert J. Bauman
- Milele A. Coggs
- JoCasta Zamarripa
- Chantia Lewis
- Marina Dimitrijevic
In the letter, the Council members specifically ask the president to issue an executive order banning the use of qualified immunity for police officers in wrongful death lawsuits brought against these officers, whether the officers are on or off duty at the time of the incident.
They further call the president to implement the provisions of H.R. 7120 of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020, a bill that addresses a range of issues regarding law enforcement accountability.
It includes cracking down on qualified immunity, chokeholds, and no-knock warrants and creating stricter use-of-force standards.
"One issue we fear may have been lost in the tumult of the past several months, however, is the need to fundamentally change the way police agencies interact with the communities they are intended to serve," they write.
Locally, the officers involved in the shootings of Alvin Cole in Wauwatosa and of Jacob Blake in Kenosha have not been criminally charged in the incidents. District Attorneys have argued the officers acted within the boundaries of the law.
"For all those who see in police officers not a friend but an oppressor, there can be no hope without the confidence that those responsible for shaping police policy are acting with urgency in their interest," according to the Council members.
"These are small costs when weighed against the blood price the inaction of the past four years has brought," they write.
See the Common Council members' letter below: