With all of the problems surrounding the actions of police officers in the field, and the extent of damages caused, resulting in injury and death, the State of New York is proposing a bill to make officers independently responsible in an effort to deter police misconduct. State lawmakers are churning out more proposed laws to hold cops accountable for misconduct. A bill introduced by state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi would require police officers to obtain personal liability insurance to cover civil lawsuits filed against them for excessive force and other abuses as a way to deter misconduct. Police brutality, while it reveals itself in many forms, is most spoken about regarding actions of excessive force.  Other forms of police brutality include racial and gender bias-based profiling, sexual abuse/harassment, false arrest, and illegal search and seizure activities, all of which may lead to excessive force action during an arrest.

Costs to taxpayers.

Under current law, cops who are sued are represented by the city law department and taxpayers carry the bill for any verdict or settlement. Biaggi’s proposal would require each officer to obtain individual liability insurance. The city or other local governments would still be required to cover the basic insurance policy to cover tort litigation costs.

Between July 2017 and June 2018, New York City paid out $230 million in 6,472 cases for alleged misconduct or alleged wrongdoing by officers, according to a report released by city Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office. The measure is just the latest in a slew of police accountability measures that were passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month.  They include repealing the state’s controversial police records secrecy rule known as “50-a” that sealed off access to disciplinary records, banning the use of chokeholds and codifying Cuomo’s existing executive order granting the state attorney general the power to conduct independent probes of in-custody deaths.

Incidence of police brutality in the field.

Given the amount of police encounters that occur each day across the United States, the incidence of use of force is relatively low, contrasting with the increasingly high damages that occur when a single encounter escalates to a level of excessive force leading to physical violence and officer actions resulting in death to United States citizens.  Recent excessive force death actions occurring during police encounters have grabbed the National spotlight and forced a much needed conversation toward necessary policing changes in 2020.  While many officers disapprove of the use of excessive force, a substantial minority of officers feel that they should be permitted to use more force then the law allows and a large percentage agreed that following the rule of law is sometimes counterproductive to effectively protecting the communities they serve.  Personal accountability may change that narrative.

Seek legal counsel.

Legal counsel can assist with any type of formal complaint against a department and when necessary, take action to file a lawsuit against the officer. If you or someone you love has suffered the negative consequence of any form of police brutality, contact an experienced police brutality lawyer in New York.