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Police Departments Reined in by Insurer Ultimatums

According to a report in the Washington Post, the most influential voices in police reform aren’t necessarily politicians or even other police officers. Instead, those most likely to create behavioral changes in policing are municipal insurance agents. As in many other situations, the thing that often ends up getting people’s attention is money. That was the case in St. Ann, Missouri.

After a series of high-profile police chases that resulted in property damage and/or bystander injury, St. Ann was targeted by activists and sued by civilians for how their officers conducted traffic pursuits. But when police chief Aaron Jimenez was unwilling to change his department’s procedures, he faced an ultimatum from insurer which provided liability coverage for the city and its police department. If the department didn’t restrict its officers use of dangerous traffic pursuits, their insurance coverage was going to get canceled. And when city officials looked for other coverage options, it became clear that doing so would double their insurance costs.

Jimenez said in an interview, “I didn’t really have a choice, If I didn’t do it, the insurance rates were going to go way up. I was going to have to lose 10 officers to pay for it.”

Of course, insurance costs for any policy will rise after a series of claims against the policy. When citizens of a jurisdiction are successful in suing their police department for wrongful death, excessive use of force, or other similar claims, the money awarded to the plaintiffs is usually paid by such an insurer. So, ultimatums like this are often the only effective way to hold police agencies accountable for their misbehavior. In such agencies, it’s literally too expensive not to change.

Possible Preaching Angle:

1) Change; Discipline – When we do not respond to God’s warnings by changing our behavior, God will strongly motivate us through his discipline, which can include consequences; 2) Accountability; Finances - As members of society, we should exercise accountability with one another, especially with how we apportion our funds. Finances can speak when other avenues are closed.

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