Police need insurance

Though change cannot come fast enough for those most impacted by the overly aggressive and sometimes brutal actions of police, there is something tangible, important and powerful that we in Minneapolis can do in the next six months, which will help “bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice.”

Community members can become knowledgeable about and supportive of an amendment to the City Charter, which has been proposed for the November ballot in Minneapolis.

For several years, a local advocacy group has collected signatures for this Police Insurance Amendment to be on the ballot.

The proposed amendment requires Minneapolis police officers to carry their own professional liability insurance.

This is not unlike the conditions of employment for FBI and CIA agents, nurses, lawyers, plumbers and therapists. Under this proposal, the city could choose to pay the premium for the basic liability plan, but officers would be required to pay for any premium increase resulting from the insurance company’s determination that the insured police officer’s complaint and lawsuit history is a risk to the company’s bottom line.

Currently, the city does not often discipline police for misconduct due in part to pressure brought to bear by the police union. This lack of discipline fosters tendencies toward more serious misconduct.  Insurance companies will not be subject to the same pressure and will make their own determination of the risk their client-officer poses.

When police have a monetary incentive to find alternatives to aggressive or violent confrontation, (i.e., increased insurance premiums), they will likely do so.  Police who already know how to de-escalate conflict situations and who do their jobs properly will not be harmed by this new policy.  In fact they will benefit by having the assurance they will be defended from false accusations by their insurance company, rather than the current situation whereby the City’s decides on a case-by-case basis whether to defend them.

I have joined the campaign to educate community members on why they should vote yes on the initiative in November because I am outraged whenever power is abused.  When I learn of another large payout the city has made to another victim of police brutality, (payouts often in hundreds of thousands or even a million or more dollars), and I learn of another instance where the offending officer has not been disciplined, I am frustrated and indignant.

Involvement in this campaign is something I can do to help improve police conduct and create a better Minneapolis for all. I invite other Minneapolis community members to join the campaign by contacting the Campaign to Insure the Police at info@insurethepolice.org or calling 612-384-0277.

Kathleen Murphy