NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The New York City Council voted Thursday to end qualified immunity for police officers.

The decades-old protection has prevented officers from being sued or liable for misconduct.

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New York is now the first city in the country to end qualified immunity. The measure was passed as part of a package of police reform bills.

Critics argued scrapping the protection will make officers less aggressive in fighting crime, if they have to worry about lawsuits.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, however, said it “has been used to deny justice to victims of police abuse for decades.”

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“Rooted in our nation’s history of systemic racism, qualified immunity denied Freedom Riders justice and has been used to deny justice to victims of police abuse for decades,” he tweeted after the vote. “It should never have been allowed, but I’m proud that we took action today to end it here in NYC.”