CFPP is campaigning to amend the Minneapolis City Charter to require police officers employed by the city to carry personal, professional liability insurance as an independent accountable mechanism to prevent bad policing that destroys lives.
We are a group of dedicated volunteers working on a project that could bring major change to our city, and potentially other cities as well. If you are interested in joining this community effort, please contact us. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on our campaign's progress and local department news, and explore our website to learn more. We also need people to help us raise funds, write messages that will appeal to the public, get out press releases, and lots more. Volunteer here.
Help us fund this campaign! This is a grassroots effort funded only by individual donations and a few small grants -- no big party or corporate money involved.
The problem of police brutality is a persistent one with a long history. Attempts to curb misconduct have included review by police department Internal Affairs Units, review by civilian review boards, examining squad car videos, retraining and coaching officers and most recently, body cameras proposed for officers while on duty. In spite of these efforts the problem remains, as the same officers' names appear again and again on complaint forms and are notorious in certain neighborhoods.
Why have all these reasonable methods failed to bring about a change in police behavior? Research into police discipline (or more accurately, the lack thereof) has shown that police are virtually immune to any kind of disciplinary measures. Looking closer at these "remedies," they have one thing in common: police departments fail to give any consequences to officers when they act outside of the law. While there are many policies and laws in place that define proper and lawful behavior by police, these laws are often broken with impunity. Of course there is no reason for an officer to stop unlawful behavior if there is no accountability for that behavior.
A coalition formed in Minneapolis has a new approach to reducing police misconduct. The Committee for Professional Policing (CFPP) has a fair and common sense proposal to greatly reduce police brutality by requiring that all police officers carry professional liability insurance. This guarantees that the decisions made about an officer will be about risk management, simply about whether an officer is going to be too costly on the street. More details.
Mandating personal liability insurance will be a win-win for police officers and the public. The present system of zero discipline favors the problem cops, who are promoted to positions that remove them from contact with the public. In their supervisory positions they form the culture of the police department. When honest officers report a co-worker for illegal behavior or using obviously poor judgment on the job, they suffer the consequences of anything from being shunned, to not being supported on duty by fellow officers, to being fired. Under the personal liability plan, the culture would undergo a shift where officers get a real consequence of higher premiums for bad behavior. Continued bad behavior would lead to loss of insurability. This would mean losing the right to work for the city, which requires police officers to be insured. For good cops the work environment could become safer as trust in fellow officers is restored, enabling them to work together to truly "Protect and Serve".
The baseline insurance could be paid for by the city. Officers who act outside the Code of Conduct would have a premium to pay, just as a driver who has many accidents will pay an increased premium. Police officers will join other professionals who have personal liability insurance; doctors, lawyers, nurses, social workers, engineers and others. The City of Minneapolis will still be responsible for badly written policy, failure to train and/or failure to properly supervise.
The money currently paid out by the city for lawsuits comes from the General Fund, taxpayer money that is set aside for such needs. The city also hands out considerable money in settlements that happen outside the public's attention in the City Council Ways and Means Committee. To insure each officer might be costly but the cost is flat, with increased premiums being the responsibility of individual officers. The goals of the insurance company would be in line with the goals of the city....to save money.
In order to accomplish the goal of personal liability insurance for police the City Charter must be revised. This is done by collecting signatures on a petition amounting to 5% of voters in the last election. When that number is reached and the signatures verified by the City Clerk's office, the proposal will go on the ballot of the next election as a referendum, a "Yes" or "No" vote on the amendment. It will require 51% of those voting on the issue to pass it into law. Gathering signatures has been going well and we are preparing to launch our campaign. The largest obstacle will be getting the voters to the polls and combatting misinformation by the police unions and the City of Minneapolis.