Fraternal Order of Police lobs Congress a warning on police reform talks

Among the greatest points of contention in lawmakers’ discussions is how to address qualified immunity, the legal doctrine that shields officers from civil liability for misconduct on the job.

A draft of a potential compromise that leaked earlier this month would shift legal liability to police departments, rather than officers, sparking stiff opposition from law enforcement groups like the National Sheriffs Association.

Civil rights groups like the NAACP issued statements this week criticizing the involvement of police unions and “partisan politicians” in negotiations and expressing concern law enforcement groups could dilute the final compromise deal.

Bass, the lead House Democrat negotiator, said Tuesday that infighting among the law enforcement groups could scuttle a deal, though both the Fraternal Order of Police and the National Sheriffs Association denied that characterization.

In the law enforcement group’s statement Wednesday, Yoes warned that if negotiators walk away from the talks, “the results for our citizens and our profession will be tragic.”

“If in fact the effort to craft bipartisan legislation does come to an end,” Yoes warned, “we will have missed an enormous opportunity to strengthen the bonds between police officers and the communities they serve while ensuring the continuation of protections which are vital to rank-and-file police efforts.”

Nicholas Wu contributed to this report.