High profile cases of police misconduct have crowded the news over the past few years. This is not surprising; the City of Minneapolis has paid out roughly $20 million over the last seven years for police brutality and misconduct claims. These payouts come directly from the city’s general fund, from taxes that all of us contribute. We all understand that it is necessary to pay our fair share of taxes to ensure a safe and vibrant city, but it is disrespectful to ask the taxpayers to fund police misconduct, especially when the city refuses to discipline those officers who cause these payouts. It is precisely this lack of discipline that encourages the misconduct and waste of taxpayer money.
Community members have brought forward an idea that would correct this problem. There is a proposal for a charter amendment to be placed on the 2014 ballot that would require Minneapolis police officers to carry their own professional liability insurance. The city could pay for the base rate of the insurance, but officers would be responsible for any additional premium due to claims or complaint history. This would make police officers directly accountable for their conduct and ease the burden on taxpayers. It would also place police officers in the same category as doctors, nurses, lawyers and others who typically carry professional liability insurance.
This plan would serve as a deterrent to police brutality and misconduct. Just as poor drivers are charged much higher rates and eventually become uninsurable, police officers with repeat offenses would find themselves unable to continue on the force. And just as we all benefit from having bad drivers off the streets, we will create a safer city when problem officers are removed from duty. In turn, officers with few or no complaints will not have to pay any money out of pocket for their insurance coverage. Thus, good behavior will be directly rewarded by having the legal protection of insurance at no cost.
Several officers currently employed by the Minneapolis Police Department have cost the city in excess of $1 million individually through their acts of brutality and misconduct. In no other area of employment would it be tolerable to cost your employer millions of dollars because of bad behavior and still retain your job. Police officers should be held to the same standards of accountability as other professionals.
The Committee for Professional Policing (CfPP) is spearheading an effort to get this measure on the ballot in 2014. They must collect over 10,000 signatures of registered Minneapolis voters to ensure a spot on the ballot. If you would like to create a safer city and reduce this needless burden on taxpayers, there are ample opportunities for you to get involved with this grassroots effort. Contact the Committee for Professional Policing at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-715-8784. You can read more about this initiative at cfppmpls.wordpress.com.