A Florida Libertarian running for President said it is time to end qualified immunity for police and “let markets impose cultural advancements.”
Mike ter Maat, candidate for the Libertarian Party Presidential nomination, believes the answer is liability insurance. He reflected on the issue after the beating of unarmed Tyre Nichols by Memphis police caused his death.
“As libertarians, we understand the problems posed by qualified immunity: that holding government agents accountable is the only way to protect our individual rights, that transparency is the only way to promote faith in our community institutions, and that inhibiting the ability of victims to seek redress in court is downright un-American,” the Florida Libertarian said. “Though it is true that qualified immunity directly affects relatively few cases, and no criminal cases, the principle itself stands in stark contrast to our own principles as libertarians.”
He said violence is learned behavior and related what happened to mob behavior.
“To be clear, police culture has been improving, which surely says more about how bad was the past than how good is the present,” ter Maat said. “I personally saw progress over the course of the relatively brief eleven years that I worked as a police officer in Broward County. But as anyone who has worked both as a LEO and in a job with bottom-line responsibility can tell you, there remains an unnatural buffer between an officer’s actions and personal responsibility.”
In addressing the need for qualified immunity to protect officers operating in good faith, the Libertarian candidate said liability insurance would be the market solution, adding that courts have not extended immunity to doctors, who, as a result, acquire malpractice insurance for protection.
“Ending qualified immunity would be a first step toward signaling to police that police culture must change,” Libertarian Mike ter Maat said. “It would also be a first step toward introducing a third-party private-sector check on police officers’ adherence to best practices. Liability insurance providers could not be stymied by unions or employers reticent to provide the performance and training records necessary to rate the risks presented by individual officers. This is how we as libertarians would want markets to work and this is how we as citizens would want culture to change.”