MPD watchdogs want cops to pay out of own pocket in misconduct cases

MPD watchdogs want cops to pay out of own pocket in misconduct cases

Now here's a question worth millions: What's the best way to police the police?

Communities United Against Police Brutality is pushing an amendment to the Minneapolis city charter that would force cops to carry professional liability insurance and pay out of their own pockets when they're found to have mistreated civilians. With enough signatures, it could end up on the 2014 ballot.

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Between 2006 and 2012, according to one analysis, the city paid nearly $14 million in settlements in connection to misconduct cases.

Eric Schiltz argued on Southside Pride that it has been "disrespectful" to ask taxpayers to pay for the city's mistakes. He's the self-described "project manager" on the potential amendment, and explains it this way:

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.

Doctors, nurses, lawyers, and other professionals have to carry their own insurance, he said, so why not cops?

A statement released by CUAPB argues that the bad apples "who continue to abuse their power in uniform would be forced out, as their insurance rates would become too costly for them to remain in the department or they became uninsurable."

Minneapolis police officials declined to comment. A message left with John Delmonico, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, was not immediately returned Monday. 

The idea of cops carrying their own insurance came up briefly during the Minneapolis mayoral election, but most of the candidates who were asked about it seemed skeptical. Bob Fine told the Twin Cities Daily Planet that the problem lies with police training and the complaint review board, which "doesn't have the teeth it needs to reprimand bad behavior."

Mayor-elect Betsy Hodges has thrown her support instead behind equipping street patrol officers with body cameras as a way to both protect officers and help get to the bottom of misconduct complaints.

Click through to the next page to see the full wording of what's being proposed

Section 7.3(a)(2) Police Officers. Each peace officer appointed in the police department must be licensed as required by law. Each such licensed officer may exercise any lawful power that a peace officer enjoys at common law or by general or special law, and may execute a warrant anywhere in the county. Each appointed police officer must provide proof of professional liability insurance coverage in the amount consistent with current limits under the statutory immunity provision of state law and must maintain continuous coverage throughout the course of employment as a police officer with the city. Such insurance must be the primary insurance for the officer and must include coverage for willful or malicious acts and acts outside the scope of the officer's employment by the city. If the City Council desires, the city may reimburse officers for the base rate of this coverage but officers must be responsible for any additional costs due to personal or claims history. The city may not indemnify police officers against liability in any amount greater than required by State Statute unless the officer's insurance is exhausted. This amendment shall take effect one year after passage.

-- Follow Jesse Marx on Twitter @marxjesse or send tips to [email protected]

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