Riots in several major cities across the nation are making plain to one and all that the national tolerance for the occasional physical excesses of our police forces has come to a sudden halt. In New York City and several other places, police vehicles have been pelted with Molotov Cocktails and many wind up turned turtle and burned beyond recovery. Multiple police officers have been shot and killed. Crowds of bystanders no longer stand by idly while police arrest suspects. In Minneapolis MN and in Buffalo NY, police have been fired and charged with felonies for assaulting citizens.
Antifa and BLM have been accused of stirring protesters and turning them into rioters. Sections of several downtowns, usually in minority neighborhoods, have been decimated by arson. The Left generally praises and/or excuses the excesses of the rioters in contrast to the opprobrium slathered on the police and municipal leaders. The Right tsk-tsks over the generally over-the-top police reaction but reserves their strongest condemnations for the looters and rioters. Neither is providing much in the way of 'solutions'.
Well, is there a solution? Without a doubt, anything that would serve to mitigate police violence would have to do so by imposing real accountability on police departments. That means 'negative reinforcement', and that means making police misconduct painful. Currently, when a citizen sues the police department and wins, the settlement is paid from city funds. That is, it's paid-for by the taxpayers of the city. The police feel no pain from that punishment. All the pain is directed at the taxpayers. That doesn't work. We've seen that it doesn't work. If it worked, police brutality would no longer be an issue. We need a different answer.
The path suggested by several commentators is to pay such judgements from police pension funds. This has the benefit that all cops are penalized for the misbehavior of the so-called 'bad apples'. Essentially, it outsources enforcement of departmental ethics policies to everyone in uniform. Would that work? Maybe. There may be a better answer.
It has been suggested that all government employees (at every level) with arrest power should be mandated to carry personal liability insurance. Police unions wield tremendous political power and it's possible that the 'pension option' could be thwarted in the next contract. It's much harder for the unions to lean on Prudential or Allstate, and those insurance companies will have a vested interest in rating police officers on their 'risk'. A 'risky' officer will find the insurance premium rising in lockstep with the insurers perceived liability. The best the unions will be able to do in response is to negotiate an 'insurance allowance', but such contracts apply to every member equally. Sure, an officer might get $300/year to cover the cost of insurance, but Officer Friendly may find that the policy only costs $265, putting $35 back into the family budget, whereas Officer McSteroid has to come up with another $400 to cover the $700 premium, and if his behavior doesn't improve, before too long he'll need a second job just to maintain the required level of insurance.
Nowadays, when an officer is (finally!) fired for misconduct, it often just means a transfer to a different city or county or state and a change of uniform. Tabula rasa, baby! Not so if Officer McSteroid still has to maintain a current policy. State Farm knows his name and his reputation and shares that information with Allstate and Prudential. There's no escape from the database.
Too bad we can't do that for Congressmen.