Restructuring Civilian Payouts for Police Misconduct

Problem

Police killings and use of excessive force occur at high rates in the U.S., with vast racial disparities in who is most impacted. This has created concerns in many communities about accountability and safety. Police officers also face dangers and stresses on the job that impact their work. Despite some reforms, the system continues to lack sufficient accountability measures.

Background

Black Americans face 3.5 times higher likelihood of being killed by police than whites. Racial disparities exist across stops, searches, arrests, sentencing, and use of force. A 2019 study found African Americans were nearly 3 times more likely to be killed by police than whites over 2015-2018. Taxpayers currently cover millions in misconduct settlement payouts. A 2020 analysis found the 25 largest U.S. cities paid over $2.2 billion in settlements and judgments in police misconduct cases between 2015-2020.

 

Policy Response

Shift financial liability for civilian payouts from taxpayer money to police department insurance plans. Premiums would be based on individual officers’ misconduct records to drive accountability.

Key Takeaways

  • Could increase accountability to communities and potentially reduce misconduct.
  • May free taxpayer funds for investment in struggling cities’ needs.
  • Drives cultural changes in policing by making departments and officers fiscally liable.