United States police officers are increasingly purchasing professional liability insurance policies as their hedge against lawsuits for their on-duty-actions, according to a Reuters report taken from data coming from the largest police union in the country.
From July 2014 to July 2015, there was an increase of 15 percent in the number of police officers who purchased the liability insurance, based on the Fraternal Order of Police data released this week which was exclusively shared with Reuters.
According to Jim Pasco, FOP executive director, in the past few years, the rate of increase in liability insurance purchases was only between one and three percent. This type of insurance will cover legal fees, but does not answer against criminal prosecution.
"In an already litigious society, the likelihood of a police officer being sued or charged, often falsely, grows by the day. Officers are increasingly aware of the need to be protected and joining the FOP legal defense plan in growing numbers," Pasco told Reuters.
The cost of insurance covering legal fees is $265 per year and the FOP is currently representing over 330,000 police officers.
Another police officers organization, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association has also experienced a 10 percent jump in insurance purchases of police officers last year.
"The environment has become increasingly volatile towards law enforcement in general," Jonathan Adler, a past president and member and of the FLEOA, told Reuters.
The sharp increase of insurance purchases comes at a time when a national debate is raging on whether law enforcement should have more scrutiny and surveillance considering the much publicized cases of deadly force used against unarmed civilians, a majority of whom are from the minorities.
As a result, civil rights organizations like Black Lives Matter as well as President Obama have pushed for more police officers accountability, such as using community oversight, body cameras and other measures.