A bill introduced last week by a Texas lawmaker would require law enforcement officers in the state to carry liability insurance as a condition of employment.
Rep. Jolanda Jones, D-Houston, proposed House Bill No. 1808, which states a law enforcement agency may not employ a peace officer – a law enforcement officer – unless they obtain and continuously maintain liability insurance to cover damages resulting from any misconduct. That includes intentional, negligent, or willful acts committed by the law enforcement officer while acting in the scope of their employment for the law enforcement agency.
The bill proposes that the state insurance commissioner shall set a minimum coverage amount for a policy that allows fora reasonable number of victims to be compensated.
“I gotta have car insurance, otherwise I can’t drive,” Jones told reporters, according to High Plains Public Radio. “Police officers can be more dangerous than a car — the police officer has a gun and that weapon is designed to kill people.”
Police officer liability insurance has drawn the attention of insurers and brokers in recent years in response to several high-profile incidents of police misconduct. In 2020 former New York Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, Democrat-Bronx, authored a bill requiring liability insurance for police officers. The bill failed to advance. A similar bill is on the agenda in New York this year.
National Republican lawmakers have expressed opposition to efforts that would make it easier to sue police officers.
The Texas bill appears to have some bipartisan support. Rep. Ron Reynolds, R-Missouri City and the chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, told reporters, “This bill doesn’t seem to solve all the problems, but it certainly will be a tool to help, I believe, reduce the incidence of police having incidents of misconduct.”
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