HOW INSURANCE CAN FIX AMERICA’S POLICE BRUTALITY PROBLEM
Every day three people die as a result of police brutality. This rate doesn’t appear to be looking to change. But we have laws that should guard against this, don't we? So why isn't the law being enforced? Hmm. For starters, who would enforce it? Do we expect the police to arrest themselves? Yes, prosecutors are the ones who choose which cases to file but they are an extension of law enforcement and they work hand in hand with the police to take a case from arrest to conviction. It's rare to see an officer being criminally charged for the unlawful use of force during detention or arrest unless it was lethal. Many high-profile killings by police prove this. Officer Daniel Pantaleo already had 98 complaints filed against him when he choked Eric Garner to death in New York City. Officer Jason Van Dyke had 20 complaints when he fired 16 shots into Laquan McDonald in Chicago. And Chauvin had 18 complaints when he knelt on Floyd's neck for 8minutes and 46 seconds.
It appears that not even a year of protests within the wake of George Floyd's murder will curb officers' killing more young men like Daunte Wright or prevent officers from unloading their guns into teenagers like Ma'Khia Bryant (both cases occurred this year). There’s a lot more. According to the Washington Post database, 2020 was the deadliest gun violence year as shootings did not stop during the pandemic, with Black people making up a disproportionate number of victims. Not to mention those not killed by firearms (such as George Floyd). Black people are 3.5 times more likely than white people to be killed by police when Blacks are not attacking or do not have a weapon. There is no official record of police brutality in the US. But we can mention a lot. Tamir Rice, Antwon Rose, Jonathan Ferrell, Korryn Gaines, Philando Castile.. the list is endless.
If high-profile trials aren't curbing the daily shootings of individuals in this country, maybe there is some better way to change this. We'll say liability insurance with high premiums. It's time officers are made to face more accountability both within the courts and in their wallets. Imagine a world where officers' premiums go up whenever a legitimate complaint is filed and substantiated. It isn't hard to imagine they'd reconsider a number of their actions within the moment if they were reminded daily that the town won't disburse many dollars, as they continually do now if an individual dies. Or what do you think? Insurance just might play a shocking role in achieving justice for victims of police brutality.
When an officer kills a civilian, neither the officer nor the police department foots the bill. That payout falls on the taxpayers of the city employing the officer. There has to be a change. The core barrier to enacting this change is, as always, the police unions. The unions have fought to ensure that officers get generous leeway in how they conduct themselves as long as they can say they "feared" for their lives. But clearly, this fear is typically based on racism. Historically, police unions have fought to limit the accountability officers face on the work. Consistent with Campaign Zero, a watchdog group, over 85 percent of all police departments within the U.S. have fought to ensure that police contracts include language that limits discipline and oversight. This is often why guilty verdicts like Chauvin's are so incredibly rare — even when officers constantly kill people.
It's time to loosen the unions' hold on protecting office. At least, in health care, physicians and hospitals have malpractice insurance which they buy, to supply coverage for disputed claims about services they provide. It's a method hospitals reroute risk to individual doctors for many malpractice claims. When malpractice claims are filed, physicians' insurance rates go up. Eventually, if doctors have enough claims against them that need insurance to be used, they're going to be priced out. And if they work in states that need insurance at all times, they might potentially not be allowed to practice, which is sensible. So why not try that with the police?
A way to hold the police accountable would be to make it so that officers could be held personally liable with Police department liability insurance. If police officers could be personally liable, you would need to have personal liability insurance to be a cop. You can rest assured that insurance companies would demand to see an officer's record before they would insure them. Each officer's record of conduct would likely determine how much insurance would cost them. The very worst officers would likely become uninsurable, and would no longer be able to be a cop, which is the way it should be. This use of policy to curb harm to people is pretty much accepted by most in society — which is why we should begin to apply it to every police officer working in the country.
In conclusion, when it comes right down to it, money makes the planet go round, which applies to cops, too. If we can put pressure on our lawmakers to ensure that officers understand and assume accountability for their actions, we should be able to successfully teach more of them not to confuse their guns for a Taser within the streets of America. Since apparently, they can't tell the difference. Police department liability insurance will take the burden off of taxpayers, particularly in struggling cities, and place accountability on police departments and police officers who commit the misconduct. Based on the number of misconduct settlements and cases, insurance companies can decide whether to retain the department, increase the rate, or decrease it. This model allows for police chiefs, mayors, and county executives to have a market-driven approach to identify bad apples like Derek Chauvin and justify their removal from the force so that they don't continue to rot the trees of law enforcement agencies.