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Disagreement over qualified immunity in McLean County

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MCLEAN COUNTY (WEEK) -- Several McLean County-based organizations say the county board should not a pass a resolution supporting qualified immunity. Miltonette Craig with "Not in Our Town" said the policy fails to protect the public.

"As private citizens, if we make mistakes, it isn't just let go, we have to serve or take whatever consequences come with that," said Craig.

"Not in Our Town", along with Bloomington-Normal's NAACP and YWCA spoke out this week after McLean County Board member Chuck Erickson said he wanted to pass a resolution supporting qualified immunity. Lawmakers are expected to evaluated the statewide policy later this year.

"Qualified immunity gives the officer some immunity, during his everyday operations when he's working on the job," said Erickson.  

Erickson added that the policy protects officers from civil suits for misconduct or other illegal actions that occurred by accident or through negligence. He pointed out that people can still take legal action if an officer willfully and wantonly takes part in abuse or misconduct.

"It's a dangerous job to do, they've got people second guessing them all the time. They've got people telling them they can't do this or can't do this all the time. They need some protection," he said.

Erickon said the symbolic resolution is also needed to show law enforcement they are supported. Craig, however, said the real danger is taking too much power away from the public.

"One mistake could cost someone their life...an innocent person who is unarmed and so on and so forth, so we want to make sure those types of near fatal mistakes do not happen," added Craig.

The McLean County Justice Committee is expected to revisit the resolution sometime next month.

Andy Weber

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