Police Liability Coverage: Mentally Unstable Suspects Pose Risks

Police Liability Coverage: Mentally Unstable Suspects Pose Risks for Officers

An investigation into the shooting of a transient man in New Mexico has generated a stir among law enforcement and communities they serve. The Federal Bureau of Investigations has begun an inquiry into the March 16th 2014 death of a homeless man who allegedly became violent towards officers. This incident is one of a string of fatalities involving Albuquerque law enforcement and mentally ill individuals, which raises red flags for the FBI about policies prompting the use of force when dealing with volatile civilians. While the investigation of the shooting is ongoing, buzz has begun to surface regarding law enforcement interaction with mentally unstable individuals.

Working with mentally unstable individuals presents an increasing challenge for police across the nation. Many mentally ill  individuals who are homeless and transient  would have historically been institutionalized into treatment programs but are now finding themselves without help as the onset of their symptoms progresses. For the publicity of this story, debate has arisen regarding the implications of budget cuts to mental health programs on the safety and welfare of U.S. citizens.

Police are often not specifically trained in dealing with cognitively unstable individuals. Only a handful of well-staffed departments are able to partner officers with mental health workers when these situations emerge. Los Angeles P.D., for example, has acquired the assistance of 30 mental healthcare workers to mitigate unpredictable interactions thus managing their liability exposure to misconduct. While the majority of departments have guidelines and policies for handling mentally ill citizens the training and enforcement resources are often lacking, which can result in major liability dilemmas.

As an individual law enforcement officer you can still be personally help responsible for your actions in court. Claimants can bring charges directly against you and the personal actions you engage in, calling your professionalism and reputation into question. Litigation can get expensive and even when you are not found liable you could still be left with thousands in legal fees. Having personal police liability coverage can help you protect yourself should a lawsuit be filed against you.

At Professional Government Underwriters, Inc. we specialize in professional underwriting for public service industries. Our Police Professional Liability Insurance can help protect you against a variety of work related liability claims so you can rest assured and continue fulfilling your civic duties to the best of your abilities. Please Contact Us today for more information about our coverage offerings.