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A New Hampshire police department described qualified immunity as a 'unique benefit' in a job listing

INSIDER logo INSIDER 8/4/2021 mkeith@insider.com (Morgan Keith)
a man standing in front of a crowd of people watching a baseball game: A police officer stands guard as President Donald Trump speaks to supporters at an evening rally on August 15, 2019 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images © Provided by INSIDER A police officer stands guard as President Donald Trump speaks to supporters at an evening rally on August 15, 2019 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A recruitment post from the Manchester Police Department in New Hampshire listed qualified immunity as a "unique benefit" in a call for entry-level and certified applicants.

"Located less than an hour from Boston, Manchester enjoys proximity to great schools and attractions, the beach, and the White Mountains. The department offers many opportunities to advance and additional unique benefits including qualified immunity. Click the link and apply now!" the post read.

Hours later, the department took down the post. "Earlier today Manchester Police published a recruitment post that referenced qualified immunity. This post was not the place for the mention of qualified immunity and was not appropriate. The post was removed and archived appropriately. As Chief of Police I take full responsibility for this post and the inappropriate mention of qualified immunity," Chief Allen Aldenberg said in a department Facebook post.

Qualified immunity protects public officials from lawsuits related to the actions they take while acting in their official capacity-even if they violate someone's constitutional rights.

Critics like US Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Pramila Jayapal, and Mondaire Jones say that the doctrine gives officers free rein to use excessive force and escape accountability by requiring the victim to present a previous case with nearly identical circumstances that a court ruled as unconstitutional, CNN reported.

For example, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a February 2020 case that a prison guard who pepper-sprayed a prisoner "for no reason" was entitled to qualified immunity, Prison Legal News reported.

In April, the New Hampshire House was six votes short of passing legislation that would have eliminated qualified immunity as a defense in lawsuits against public officials that allege violations of constitutional rights, WMUR News 9 reported.

Police unions in New Hampshire like the Manchester Association of Police Supervisors and the Manchester Police Patrolman's Association typically extend endorsements to candidates who support qualified immunity.

Democratic incumbent Chris Pappas, the representative for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District, lost police union endorsements after publicizing his support for ending qualified immunity. Manchester's police unions instead backed his Republican opponent in 2020, WMUR News 9 reported.

Both the Manchester Police Department and Manchester Police Patrolman's Association were contacted for statements about their support of qualified immunity. The Manchester Association of Police Supervisors could not be reached for a statement.

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