Fears of being sued or charged has officers feeling afraid to do their jobs.
Liability insurance purchases have jumped from 3% to 15% – but even if needed, the insurance only covers legal fees and would not protect against prosecution.
The environment has become increasingly volatile towards law enforcement, making many officers feel they are under more scrutiny than the suspects they reprimand.
From REUTERS: Law enforcement officers in the United States are increasingly buying professional liability insurance policies amid worries they may be sued for their on-duty actions, the Fraternal Order of Police, the biggest U.S. police union, told Reuters.
Between July 2014 and July 2015, the number of members who bought the union’s liability insurance jumped 15 percent, according to data from the FOP released this week and shared exclusively with Reuters.
In previous years, liability insurance purchases grew only between one to three percent, said Jim Pasco, executive director of the FOP, which represents more than 330,000 officers.
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“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,” said Pasco, whose union sells insurance for $265 a year.[/pullquote]
The insurance would help cover legal fees, but would not protect against criminal prosecution.
The sharp jump comes amid a national debate over whether law enforcement should be under more surveillance and scrutiny, especially in light of a wave of publicized cases where deadly force was used against unarmed civilians, many of them minorities.
Civil rights groups such as Black Lives Matter and the Obama administration have called for increased accountability for officers, including the use of body cameras and community oversight.
Still, some in law enforcement, including FBI Director James Comey, have said that the increased scrutiny has made officers feel antagonized and afraid to do their jobs.
“The environment has become increasingly volatile towards law enforcement in general,” said Jonathan Adler, a member and past president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, where insurance purchases grew 10 percent last year.
(Continue reading at REUTERS)
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