The true cost of law enforcement misconduct

When a police officer is accused of misconduct, who pays for the legal fight? If the case is lost, who pays the damages? Find out here.

News stories about misconduct of law enforcement in West Virginia and around the country seem to be rather prevalent lately. People are often quick to sue stating an officer did something to violate their rights or harm them. However, who are they suing? Who pays if the court finds in favor of the plaintiff? That is the cause for concern among many cities and among citizens because the answer is not likely to be what most people may think.

Paying for misconduct

According to The Washington Post, it is rarely ever the actual officer who has to pay for his or her misconduct. Officers are protected under the law from being directly sued. It is the city or municipality that employs the officer that gets sued and is responsible for paying any awarded damages, and who funds the city? The answer is the citizens. The bottom line here is it is the people who actually pay personal injury and other lawsuits are the citizens.

Managing payments

A major issue when it comes to paying damages is the differences between different locales. Some cities may put caps on how much a person could get in damages. Others have no caps. Settlements are also very hush hush with the details being kept private. It is not always clear how the terms are reached, so citizens have little control over how much of their money is spent on these lawsuits.

Reducing the burden

Some cities will get insurance to help cover the costs of such lawsuits. This can help reduce the liability of the citizens. Using insurance also comes with a nice perk. Insurance companies are notorious for not wanting to pay out on claims. They will do everything to reduce risks. Because of this, the insurance industry has the chance to help reduce law enforcement misconduct through forcing policy changes and encouraging local governments to work harder to prevent such incidents from occurring in the first place. This could be done through things like mandatory training programs, better policy enforcement and more accountability for officers being required in order to get or keep a policy.

While there will always be a few bad seeds in law enforcement, this should not lead to punishment for all other officers and the citizens. Insurance can be a great way for a city to protect its citizens and perhaps even strengthen its law enforcement. If you want more information on this topic consider contacting an attorney, such as Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC.