New law would require NYPD police to take out individual insurance to cover misconduct claims

Louise Hall
REUTERS

A new bill introduced by a US lawmaker would require police officers to take out personal liability insurance to cover civil lawsuits filed against them for misconduct, reports have said.

The new law, introduced by Senator Alessandra Biaggi, would mean that police are no longer represented by the city law department, according to a report by The New York Post.

Under the current law, the bill from any verdicts or settlements are settled using money from taxpayers, the report said.

“While taxpayers bailout law enforcement who engage in misconduct, those same officers too often evade meaningful accountability,” Senator Biaggi told the newspaper.

The senator has proposed that officers would have to take out individual insurance as a means of holding officers accountable for any increases in premiums related to payouts for wrongdoing.

“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,” she said.

The city or other local governments would still be required to cover the basic insurance policy to cover tort litigation costs.

New York City paid out $230 million in 6,472 cases for alleged misconduct or alleged wrongdoing by officers between July 2017 and June 2018, The Post reported.

The bill is the latest in a number of recent moves to reform the city’s police department. Last month New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a sweeping police reform agenda that included the banning of chokeholds in the state.

The legislation includes a number of provisions including banning chokeholds by law enforcement officers, prohibiting false race-based 911 reports, and designating the Attorney General as an independent prosecutor for matters relating to the civilian deaths.

The ‘Say Their Name’ agenda package also repealed section 50A of the civil rights law to allow for transparency of prior disciplinary records of law enforcement officers.

Renewed pressure to introduce the reforms, which had been in discussion for years, was catalysed by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while in custody in Minneapolis after a white police officer knelt on his neck for a prolonged period of time.

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio also proposed cutting $1bn (£814m) from the police force’s $6bn (£4.48bn) yearly budget at the end of last month amidst the national unrest.

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