New Law Will Force Police Officers To Purchase Insurance To Cover Them For Brutality Lawsuits, Bill To Be Introduced In New York This Year

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New Law Will Force Police Officers To Purchase Insurance To Cover Them For Brutality Lawsuits, Bill To Be Introduced In New York This Year

New York Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, D-Bronx. Photo: Hans Pennink/AP


A new bill proposed by lawmakers in New York will make it mandatory for police officers to have their own liability insurance, which will pay out if they are sued for misconduct. It is one of the many innovative policies being suggested to tackle police misconduct in the wake of the massive protests that have taken place all over the US in the last 2 months.


Currently, when an officer is sued for doing something wrong while on the job, any compensation paid out to victims usually comes from state or federal funds. This means the taxpayer foots the bill. In New York in 2018 alone, taxpayers paid out almost a quarter of a billion dollars in compensation to victims of police misconduct.


This new proposal will mean officers have to pay for the insurance themselves and will mean that if they are persistently caught doing something wrong, their mandatory insurance premiums will thereby increase. In effect, they will be financially punished in the long-run for misconduct on the job. Officers, in extreme cases, could also lose their pension rights and redundancy payments.



The bill was introduced by State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx) and she hopes that it will lead to real personal accountability on the part of officers. She stated:


"While taxpayers bail-out law enforcement who engage in misconduct, those same officers too often evade meaningful accountability. During any period of time that such officer is performing duties within the scope of employment. Officers who have misconduct claims brought against them may see their premium go up and will be required to pay those costs. The purpose of this bill is to establish a financial disincentive for police misconduct and create accountability for abhorrent behaviour."


Law professor Deborah Ramirez, of Northeastern University, told NPR that the new rules would act as an early warning system and that it was not unusual for other professions to have similar insurance. Hairdressers, doctors, accountants and drivers are among those who already have personal liability insurance. She said:


"If you were a reckless driver, if you engaged in multiple instances of drunk driving or hitting civilians or motor vehicle homicides, your premiums would go sky high last month. And you would be priced out of driving. Similarly, officers who engage in reckless or dangerous behaviour can be priced out of policing by high premiums that reflect the actual risk that they pose to us. [W]e need some independent risk assessment here. Because they are public officers, because they do carry a badge and a gun, they should be subject to some risk assessment score card. And if the police won't create it – because it's very hard for the police to police themselves – then insurance companies can, and they do that in a number of contexts."


Ramirez does however believe that the new insurance policy is only one step in the right direction and that the real problem lies with powerful police unions. Police unions have been extremely successful in lobbying politicians and putting up excellent legal defenses of those accused of misconduct on the job. She believes that until these unions take responsibility for their members' actions, much of the wrongdoing by officers will go unpunished.


The bill is expected to be a topic of heated debate over the coming weeks and months.

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Thinking Humanity: New Law Will Force Police Officers To Purchase Insurance To Cover Them For Brutality Lawsuits, Bill To Be Introduced In New York This Year
New Law Will Force Police Officers To Purchase Insurance To Cover Them For Brutality Lawsuits, Bill To Be Introduced In New York This Year
A new bill proposed by lawmakers in New York will make it mandatory for police officers to have their own liability insurance, which will pay out if they are sued for misconduct. It is one of the many innovative policies being suggested to tackle police misconduct in the wake of the massive protests that have taken place all over the US in the last 2 months. Currently, when an officer is sued for doing something wrong while on the job, any compensation paid out to victims usually comes from state or federal funds. This means the taxpayer foots the bill.
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