What do you do after you slash one billion dollars out of your city’s police budget to “redistribute” it to social justice causes? Well, for one thing, at least in New York, you sit and ponder what you’re going to do about your suddenly skyrocketing crime rates. But after that, you’ll probably want to figure out what to do about how to pay for all the lawsuits that arise after City Hall essentially agrees with the rioters in the streets that the cops are the root of all of your problems and people start growing even more litigious.
In the case of New York City and the state capital, the elected elders have clearly seen a path forward through this part of the maze. Assuming that everyone will be suing the police if the officers so much as look at them funny and knowing that City Hall won’t have their backs, you partner up with the state government and force the cops to have liability insurance so the city won’t have to pay all of the settlements that are looming over the horizon. Think I’m kidding? That’s an idea that’s seriously on the table in the state legislature right now. (NY Post)
State lawmakers are churning out more proposed laws to hold cops accountable for misconduct.
A bill introduced by state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx) would require police officers to obtain personal liability insurance to cover civil lawsuits filed against them for excessive force and other abuses as a way to deter misconduct.
Under current law, cops who are sued are represented by the city law department and taxpayers foot the bill for any verdict or settlement.
Biaggi’s proposal would require each officer to obtain individual liability insurance. The city or other local governments would still be required to cover the basic insurance policy to cover tort litigation costs.
The bill’s author is describing this as a way to establish a “financial disincentive for police misconduct and create accountability for abhorrent behavior.” The number of things wrong with this proposal boggles the mind, and this is setting loose a flock of chickens that will come home to roost far sooner than later.
First of all, there’s one thing we know for certain. While there are certainly incidents of abuse by police officers who need to be held to account, vast numbers of suspects find themselves some ambulance-chasing lawyers and makes all sorts of unfounded claims against police officer all the time. That’s why there’s an old saying among defense lawyers about how there’s never been a guilty person in jail. Everyone has an excuse. And if there’s even a chance you can blame the cop for “mishandling” during an arrest, it increased your chances of getting off on a technicality.
Also, this fee for liability insurance won’t just be levied on cops who are found to be in violation of protocols or even engaging in criminal behavior. That’s a vanishingly small percentage of them. But the charges will apply to all of them. It’s not as if you get rich being a cop. (Trust me, we’ve had plenty in my family.) There’s a clear parallel here to the way that gun control laws massively and disproportionately impact lawful gun owners instead of those who commit gun crimes. This isn’t a “disincentive for police misconduct.” It’s a disincentive to be a police officer.
And this isn’t the only bill like this currently being put on the table. There’s a separate one that will strip police officers of their pensions in cases of alleged misconduct. Granted, I don’t think that the egregious offenders like Michael Slager and others should be allowed to collect pensions after committing cold-blooded murder. That’s offensive to the families of the victims and society in general.
But what about marginal cases like that of the officer who shot Rayshard Brooks? He was hustled off for a murder charge before the state Bureau of Investigation could even conclude an investigation and the specifics of the charges are weak to say the least. Will he and his partner be stripped of the pensions they risked their lives for all these years if other states start adopting rules like this?
I’ve got a prediction for you and I’m willing to put some free Hot Air t-shirts on the line for it as a wager. What this action is going to result in isn’t less illegal behavior by cops. It’s going to result in fewer cops. Who in their right mind is going to want to put on the badge and go out and literally risk their lives every night protecting and serving, all the while knowing that their pay is being slashed and nobody will have their back when the mob comes for them? Not many, in my never very humble opinion.