The Fraternal Order of Police, which represents more than 330,000 officers, reports that a growing number of law enforcement officers in the US are purchasing professional liability insurance policies — as concerns rise over possible lawsuits stemming from cops’ work-related actions.
FOP executive director Jim Pasco says, “In an already litigious society, the likelihood of a police officer being sued or charged, often falsely, grows by the day. Officers are increasingly aware of the need to be protected and joining the FOP legal defense plan in growing numbers.”
According to Reuters, “between July 2014 and July 2015, the number of members who bought the union’s liability insurance jumped 15 percent.”
Pasco says in previous years there would only be an increase of about 1-3 %. The sharp jump between 2014-15, coincides with an intense national debate over whether police should be under more scrutiny– in the wake of very high-profile deadly force cases involving unarmed, minority civilians.
FBI Director James Comey says the higher level of scrutiny, especially by groups like Black Lives Matter, has made officers feel “antagonized and afraid” to do their jobs. More cops are now wearing body cameras on duty — which is just one of the measures being taken in response to the Obama administration’s call for increased accountability for officers.
The liability insurance would cover officers involved in wrongful death lawsuits, as well as those charged in criminal cases. It would help cover legal fees, according to Reuters, but would not protect against criminal prosecution.
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