If federal funding dries up, the insurance industry may opt to foot the bill for de-escalation training for officers around the country.
Insurers who help pay
for improved police
training today may
save on future claims.
By Susannah Levine
In the emotionally and politically charged climate surrounding police violence, a consensus emerges from the right and the left, from cops, attorneys, academics and the insurance community: Mitigation depends on more and better training for law enforcement. Every stakeholder — from the cop on the beat through prison
management and the insurance industry — has a role in affecting change.
“Sometimes police have to use force, and then bad things happen,” said Greg
Champagne, a sheriff in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana, and president of the
National Sheriff’s Association. “The best risk management is the best training a
police force can afford. Insurers can help us provide free training.”
Many experts believe that a disproportionate number of claims are caused
by a small number of officers, said John Rappaport, assistant professor of law,
University of Chicago School of Law.
Insurers “could be bolder” in urging departments to get rid of the bad apples,
he said. While carriers don’t want to be perceived as interfering in personnel
matters, he said, “this is an occasion for managing risk.”
TRAINING, TRAINING AND MORE TRAINING
In April, the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers Inc.
(NABLEO) conducted a two-day de-escalation training program. The curriculum
aims to unpack “implicit bias,” which the Justice Department defines as “the
unconscious or subtle associations that individuals make between groups of people
and stereotypes about those groups.”
“Our assumptions of who other people are dictate how we treat them,” said
Charles P. Wilson, national chairman at NABLEO. “Assumptions create risk.”
Implicit bias training is part of the reform in some of the consent decrees
the Justice Department reached under the Obama Administration with several
troubled police departments.
The current attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is seeking a review of the consent
decrees, citing concerns about their
overuse and potential stigma for the
The DOJ action is “a disservice to
“Sometimes police have to
law enforcement and the community,”
Wilson said. “Police have to understand
what they’re doing wrong so they can
The Fraternal Order of Police,
which vociferously supports Sessions
on its website, may disagree.
use force, and then bad things
—Greg Champagne, president, National Sheriff’s
• Police training may reduce
• Settlement costs fall to taxpayers
in self-insured cities.
• Training aims to reduce police