Policing the Police: A Roadmap to Police Accountability Using Professional Liability Insurance

53 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2020 Last revised: 13 Sep 2022

See all articles by Deborah A. Ramirez

Deborah A. Ramirez

Northeastern University - School of Law

Tamar Pinto

Northeastern University - School of Law

Date Written: November 2, 2020

Abstract

“I can’t breathe,” pleaded George Floyd in May 2020 after an officer stopped him for allegedly using a phony $20 bill. Police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, killing Mr. Floyd and sparking protests around the country that continue to this day. A few years earlier, in Staten Island, Eric Garner uttered the same words as Officer Pantelo used an illegal chokehold on Mr. Garner that ended his life for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes.

In light of recent police shootings and violence, there have been rampant discussions about defunding and abolishing the police, the abolition of qualified immunity and police accountability more generally. These discussions have revealed that it is nearly impossible to weed out the bad officers so that the good officers can thrive. Incident after incident demonstrates to the nation what many of those in communities of color have long known, there is currently no real police accountability for police misconduct.

It is our thesis that even if we defund, dismantle and reimagine a narrowed police force by transferring responsibilities to other professionals such as social services, healthcare and community services, we will still need a system of accountability for a police force focused more narrowly on routine, on-going and violent crimes.

This article proposes a four-part solution to the current lack of real police accountability by restricting police union’s collective bargaining, narrowing qualified immunity and by using professional liability insurance as an instrument for identifying officers engaged in risky policing behaviors and pricing them out. Just as physicians, lawyers, accountants and other professionals carry insurance for protection against claims made by their clients, our solution proposes that police officers carry insurance to mitigate police misconduct. Our proposal offers a constructive roadmap to police accountability and aims to create a system that will save lives by detecting, preventing and deterring police misconduct, and at the same time, reduce taxpayer costs, and compensate victims fairly.

Keywords: police accountability, police unions, professional liability, insurance

Suggested Citation

Ramirez, Deborah A. and Pinto, Tamar, Policing the Police: A Roadmap to Police Accountability Using Professional Liability Insurance (November 2, 2020). Rutgers Law Review, Forthcoming, Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 397-2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3723956

Deborah A. Ramirez (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - School of Law ( email )

416 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Tamar Pinto

Northeastern University - School of Law ( email )

416 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
274
Abstract Views
1,251
Rank
211,537
PlumX Metrics