Proposal: Police Malpractice Insurance

A proposal from Popehat’s Clark:

In a better world, cops would have to buy malpractice insurance. Dangerous cops would have to pay more, leading some to change careers.

About J@m3z Aitch

J@m3z Aitch is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.
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10 Responses to Proposal: Police Malpractice Insurance

  1. Troublesome Frog says:

    Very cool idea. Shortly down the comments list, Clark notes that when the police are sued, the payouts come from the taxpayer rather than the union. One interesting option would be to change the law so that plantiffs can name the union in their filing. See how often problem officers get covered for once the people doing the covering are on the hook for the lawsuit.

  2. Matty says:

    That seems an excellent option, it makes being sued an actual disincentive to the police while avoiding the problems of suing individuals. Arguably there should be some way that when a public body is sued the people responsible for the tort (am I using the right word?) suffer some penalty rather than the taxpayers. “If you do this someone else will have to pay compensation but you’ll be fine” is not much of a disincentive to bad behaviour.

  3. ppnl says:

    Guys, the problem isn’t who pays. The problem is courts aren’t holding the police responsible for their actions. Scalia’s “new professionalism” in action.

  4. pierrecorneille says:

    I’d like to see the cops and not the taxpayers meet the burden of, say, the Chicago torture settlements. But PPNL has a point. At least I suspect so. I don’t know how often cops are kept accountable when there isn’t some video camera of what they’re doing.

  5. Troublesome Frog says:

    If the liability insurance company pays for the defense (as they generally do), just getting sued makes you a more expensive account. And even if they win, they know at least as well as the jury whether the case is an indicator that the officer in question is a real danger or not and whether they’re likely to be back there again.

    I’m also all for full-time video cameras on the officers. I think it’s only a matter of time. The one place I’m aware of where it has been tried has resulted in a drop in complaints against the officers and a reduction in the use of force. Regardless of whether it’s because police or suspects are behaving better, it’s very hard for the police unions to argue against something that decreases complaints against their people and reduces their physical danger factor. What’s left that could possibly be higher priority to them?

  6. D. C. Sessions says:

    What Scalia is exempting cops from is the stuff that’s part of their professional duties, such as framing people. That’s not actionable.
    The part where the jailors took away the diabetic’s insulin and then watched her die over the course of the next day, though, is covered by the taxpayer (in this case, me.) Sheriff Joe’s PR antics have cost me (and, admittedly, the rest of Maricopa County) something like $100 million over the past decade, just in already awarded judgments — there’s more in the queue.

  7. ppnl says:

    Erm well, Sheriff Joe has been reelected like six times right? At some point it isn’t even sheriff Joe’s fault anymore. The citizens pretty much have the sheriff they deserve. There is always the traditional libertarian remedy of voting with your feet I guess.

  8. D. C. Sessions says:

    There is always the traditional libertarian remedy of voting with your feet I guess.

    Funny you should mention that — or perhaps you’ve noticed references to my home in New Mexico?

  9. ppnl says:

    Yes I did notice.

    I also noticed that the jury in orange county found the officers who beat the mentally ill person to death “not guilty”.

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