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Police Bystandership | Questioning Qualified Immunity

Two Kansas City Police officers have been indicted for felony excessive force in the beating of Breona Hill in May 2019.
Roderick Reed
The ABLE (Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement) program teaches law enforcement officers peer-to-peer intervention to prevent harm.

The Topeka Police Department is part of new program teaching peer intervention, and an explanation of the legal policy of qualified immunity.

Segment 1, beginning at 4:49: Topeka is the only Kansas city selected for new national program that stresses moral courage

The ABLE program (Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement) from Georgetown University's Program on Innovative Policing is teaching law enforcement agencies that being loyal to fellow officers can include preventing them from taking a harmful action. "We may not know the full impact right now, but we're going to see it in five years," says Topeka Police Chief Bill Cochran whose department was among those selected for the initial rollout of ABLE.

Segment 2, beginning at 28:45: Rethinking the policy that shields police and government officials from civil lawsuits

Qualified immunity is a legal principle created by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1982. Now some are wondering if its use has been expanded beyond its original intent including two U.S. Supreme Court Justices asking the court to reconsider it.

  • Lumen Mulligan, Earl B. Shurtz Research Professor of Law at the University of Kansas
When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
As senior producer of Up To Date, I want our listeners to hear familiar and new voices that shine light on the issues and challenges facing the myriad communities KCUR serves, and to expose our audiences to the wonderful and the creative in the Kansas City area. Just as important to me is an obligation to mentor the next generation of producers to ensure that the important conversations continue. Reach me at alexanderdk@kcur.org.
Chris Young is an Assistant Producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact him at chrisy@kcur.org.
Whether it’s something happening right now or something that happened 100 years ago, some stories don’t fit in the short few minutes of a newscast. As a podcast producer at KCUR, I help investigate questions and local curiosities in a way that brings listeners along for adventures with plot twists and thought-provoking ideas. Sometimes there isn’t an easy answer in the end – but my hope is that we all leave with a greater understanding of the city we live in. Reach me at mackenzie@kcur.org.