The problem with policing in the United States

Screenshot of Advocate article with picture of Julia Yoo

Advocate Magazine
Julia Yoo
February 2021

Immunities for police are eating away at our constitutional rights.

“Trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve is essential in a democracy. It is key to the stability of our communities, the integrity of our criminal justice system, and the safe and effective delivery of policing services.”
(President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.)

A fundamental tenet of our system of governance is that no man is above the law and both king and pauper must adhere to the same set of rules. But immunities for law enforcement, whether judge-created doctrines such as qualified immunity or other governmental immunities, erode the principle of equal enforcement of laws. Immunities destroy community trust and create the perception of a two-track system of power: Police
officers may kill, beat, maim, and lie, while the communities they police are incarcerated and impoverished with no recourse and no forum to vindicate their rights.

In a country where our fundamental principle is equality under the law, our community members, particularly young people of color, do not feel as if they are being treated fairly. These immunities, eating away at our constitutional rights, send a clear message to victims of police misconduct: Law enforcement officials are above the law. 

Read the complete Advocate article here...

Julia Yoo is a partner with Iredale & Yoo in San Diego. She is the President of the National Police Accountability Project and a
member of the Board of Governors of the Consumer Attorneys of California.