Home / #Solutions / Game Changer — Instead of Tax Dollars, More Cops Buying Insurance to Fund Their Own Lawsuits

Game Changer — Instead of Tax Dollars, More Cops Buying Insurance to Fund Their Own Lawsuits

police-brutality

In almost every city across the US, tax dollars are used to cover the damages and settlements from lawsuits filed against their police departments due to officer misconduct. Taxpayers, in essence, pay out massive amounts in damages for officers not doing their job properly. Additionally, the cost is compounded because taxpayers are forced to continue paying the salaries of these criminal cops.

City officials don’t have the guts to hold officers accountable for their actions. So, a new approach is necessary to hold rogue officers responsible for their conduct.

Just like doctors have to carry malpractice insurance, police officers should be required to carry professional liability insurance as a condition of employment. For years, the Free Thought Project has been advocating this approach to force police accountability and, according to a new report out of Reuters, it’s happening.

Between July 2014 and July 2015, the number of police officers who bought the union’s liability insurance jumped 15 percent, according to data from the nation’s largest police union, the Fraternal Order of Police.

In previous years, liability insurance purchases grew only between one to three percent, said Jim Pasco, executive director of the FOP.

“In an already litigious society, the likelihood of a police officer being sued or charged, often falsely, grows by the day. Officers are increasingly aware of the need to be protected and joining the FOP legal defense plan in growing numbers,” said Pasco, whose union sells insurance for $265 a year.

Over the past seven years, taxpayers in Minneapolis alone, have paid out tens of millions of dollars to settle cases stemming from police brutality. In just 2011, $4.7 million taxpayer dollars went to cover the costs of officer misconduct. Many other cities across the US have faced similar losses with seemingly no recourse.

Some cities, such as Minneapolis, self-indemnify for police claims, while others rely on the League of Cities coverage. Most large metropolitan areas don’t engage in effective risk management strategies, as it would be a political liability due to the strength of the police lobby and unions. Thus, police are rarely held accountable for their actions.

Requiring police officers to carry professional liability insurance coverage would be an excellent risk management strategy and provide accountability for officers in ways that city administrations cannot or will not provide. While cops increasingly purchase liability insurance, a requirement to carry it to be employable does not yet exist.

As instances of police brutality and police killings continue to be exposed, there is no doubt that the US is in dire need of reform. The simple requirement for police to be insured for personal liability seems like an easy fix — especially to remove repeat offenders from the force.

All too often, when a tragic death, such as Tamir Rice, occurs, months later, we find out that the officer should have never been given a badge and a gun in the first place because of their past. However, insurance companies, who can’t fleece the taxpayers to pay for problem cops, would have to come out of pocket to pay for them, and would make sure that these officers are uninsurable.

If the officer becomes uninsurable, the officer becomes unhirable — simple as that.

Similarly to how other professionals, such as doctors who are sued too many times become uninsurable, the demands of professional liability insurance will ensure risk reduction takes place. Meaning that if city officials don’t hold police accountable for their actions, an insurance company on the hook for massive police misconduct payouts certainly will.

Problem officers would find their rates up until eventually they would become uninsurable, a wonderful way to have problem officers forced out of policing entirely.

“The environment has become increasingly volatile towards law enforcement in general,” said Jonathan Adler, a member and past president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, where insurance purchases grew 10 percent last year. And, the reason people feel this way is because they see officers repeatedly abuse citizens and face no consequences. But liability insurance changes that paradigm.

There are likely many cops out there right now who an insurance company would not cover due to their track records. A requirement for personal liability insurance would, quite literally, weed out problem officers — overnight.

In 1994, City Pages published a story on police brutality within the Minneapolis Police Department, identifying a dozen cops whose histories of doling out beatings over the previous decade had cost the department $5.8 million in settlement payouts and court costs.

If officers were to carry their own professional liability insurance, insurance rates would increase for each misconduct case brought against an officer. That handful of officers who continue to abuse their power in uniform would be forced out, as their insurance rates would become too costly for them to remain in the department or they became uninsurable. Doctors, lawyers, accountants, general contractors and many others are required to pay for professional liability insurance– why not police officers?

If accountability and reduction in police abuses are to be achieved, clearly a new approach is needed. Requiring police officers to carry their own professional liability insurance and to pay for costs over the base rate is one step towards reaching these goals.

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world.
  • anarchyt

    I’ve been advocating liability insurance for cops for years…here are more suggestions…
    Ever notice that police unions are “fraternal”? This should tell you something. The “thin-blue-line” is a gang, little different than street gangs–at least when it comes to “covering-up” questionable behavior by police.
    In today’s day and age, “officer safety” trumps de-escalation of force. This, in part, is due to the militarization of the police along with training in Israeli police tactics. This becomes a problem, with the “us vs. them” attitude that is fosters, along with the fact that Israel is a very different place, being on a constant “war footing”, and by necessity, its police tactics are very different.
    There are too many instances of police being “given a pass”, even when incontrovertible video and audio evidence is presented. Grand juries, guided by police-friendly prosecutors, quite often refuse to charge those police officers who abuse their authority.
    Police officers, who want to do the right thing, are quite often marginalized and put into harms way, by their own brethren…When a police officer is beating on someone that is already restrained while yelling, “stop resisting” THAT is but one reason police have a “bad name” in many instances…
    Here are changes that can help reduce the police-induced violence:
    1. Eliminate both “absolute” and “qualified” immunity for all public officials. The threat of being sued personally would encourage them to behave themselves.
    2. Any public funds disbursed to citizens as a result of police misconduct should come out of their pension funds–NOT from the taxpayers.
    3. Regular drug-testing of police officers as well as incident-based drug testing should take place whenever an officer is involved in a violent situation with a citizen–no exceptions.
    4. Testing for steroid use should be a part of the drug testing program. You know damn well, many police officers “bulk up” with the “help” of steroids. Steroids also affect users mentally as well, making them more aggressive. The potential for abuse of citizens increases greatly with steroid use.
    5. Internal affairs should only be used for disagreements between individual officers–NOT for investigations involving citizen abuse. State-level investigations should be mandatory for all suspected abuses involving citizens.
    6. Prosecutors should be charged with malfeasance IF any evidence implicating police officer misconduct is not presented to the grand jury.
    7. A national or state-by-state database of abusive individuals who should NEVER be allowed to perform police work should be established–a “blacklist” of abusive (former) police officers.
    8. Get rid of police unions. Police unions (fraternities) protect the guilty, and are responsible for the massive whitewashing of questionable police behavior that is presently being committed.
    9. Most people are unaware that police have special “rules” that prohibit them from being questioned for 48 hours. This allows them to “get their stories straight” and makes it easier to “cover up” bad police behavior. Police must be subject to the same laws as civilians.
    10. All police should be required to wear bodycams and utilize dashcams that cannot be turned off. Any police officers who causes a dash or body cam to be turned off should be summarily fired–no excuses. Today’s body and dash cams are reliable enough to withstand harsh treatment. Body and dashcam footage should be uploaded to a public channel “on the cloud” for public perusal.
    11. All interrogations must be video and audio recorded. Police should be prohibited from lying or fabricating stories in order to get suspects to confess. False confessions ARE a problem in many departments. Unknown to most people, police can lie with impunity while civilians can be charged with lying to police…fair? I think not…
    12. Any legislation passed that restricts the rights of ordinary citizens, such as firearms magazine capacity limits, types of weapons allowed, or restrictive concealed-carry laws should apply equally to police. No special exemptions to be given to police. Laws must be equally applied.
    Police work is not inherently dangerous…there are many other professions that are much more dangerous.
    A little “Andy Taylor” could go a long way in allaying fears that citizens have of police.
    That being said, I have no problem with police officers who do their job in a fair, conscientious manner, respecting the rights of citizens…however, it is time to call to task those police officers who only “protect and serve” themselves

    • Gus Firchow

      Lengthy. But well said.

  • Gus Firchow

    “If the officer becomes uninsurable, the officer becomes unhirable — simple as that.”
    I have said for years, make cops accountable for their actions. Stop protecting their pensions. When a rogue cop is fired, don’t let him/her work in law enforcement on any level ever again.
    Because most elected officials rely on police unions and such for support during an election you’ll be hard pressed to find one to make that a law.

    Read more at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/game-changer-tax-dollars-cops-buying-insurance-fund-lawsuits/#lfoFkZ7w7UGXcZez.99

  • Cam Alft

    the unions have their hands in everything,that is the first thing that needs to be reformed right there,then make all these corrupt cops get insurance..like those doctors you mentioned,who by the way kill almost a half a million people a year,more if you count all medical perfessions,but these insurance policies will have to include a lot of issues to be effective,after all,you know how insurance company’s just love to pay out…….

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