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Biaggi’s Bill Should Be Shelved Until More Questions Are Answered

We hope state legislators give more than a passing thought to legislation that would require police officers to have their own liability insurance.

When a local government hires a police officer, it would set a basic rate to pay for the officer’s policy. But, if there are increaes in premiums related to payouts for wrongdoing then the officer would pay the increases.

Sen. Alessandra Biaggi’s bill is obviously a bad deal for local governments that are going to bear additional costs, but it should be vetted thoroughly so that local governments and police officers aren’t hit with unexpected costs.

Biaggi should not be allowed to slide with the slipshod financial analysis included in her proposed bill that simply states there will be increased costs, but savings for fewer claims to offset the increased costs. That’s simply not good enough.

Will the rates be based on the numbers of local claims against a police department or be based more regionally? It’s an important question to ask given the differences between Jamestown and Buffalo or between the town of Carroll and the city of Jamestown. We bet Russ Payne and the Carroll Town Board would like to know the answer to that question before the state Legislature takes up Biaggi’s proposal.

What happens to those rates if there are changes to qualified immunity laws, possibly increasing an insurance company’s legal exposure. Who’s on the hook for that? How do cities that have no capacity to raise taxes pay for the increased costs? What happens for officers whose rates go up through no fault of their own, such as wrongdoing by a fellow officer that changes the insurance company’s actuarial tables?

Do cities cover yearly increasing policy costs or do the police officers? After all, the rate in 2020 won’t be the same as the rate in 2025 no matter how well an officer behaves.

Biaggi’s bill should be shelved until more questions can be answered.

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