A Costly Decision for Federal LEOs
Rush to judgment; furious public outcry; snap conclusions; war on cops; mob justice - buzz words to news correspondents, unbelievably frightening scenarios for law enforcement officers.
A federal law enforcement officer’s decision to not have professional liability insurance can be a very costly one. Exposure to complaints and allegations by subjects, criminal defendants, members of the public, special interest groups and sometimes even politically motivated officials, means that any misstep real or alleged can result in serious investigatory, disciplinary and financial consequences. If you do not have professional liability insurance in place, you really need to revisit that decision since:
- Mounting a defense for a civil or administrative action could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars – a civil award, even more;
- Your agency will pay up to half the cost – because Congress told them to;
- You can have $1,000,000 of coverage – defense and indemnification – for as little as $145 per year (after agency reimbursement); and
- Your leading federal law enforcement officer associations including FLEOA, WIFLE, NABNA and others strongly recommend it for all federal law enforcement officers.
FEDS PLI policies will provide you with three distinct types of protection: civil, administrative, and criminal. Civil suits are typically referred to as Bivens actions, Constitutional Torts or Personal Capacity Lawsuits. All federal employees can be sued personally by private persons or other entities for alleged violations of an individual's constitutional and common law rights. These types of suits are more likely to be brought against law enforcement officers (LEOs) given their respective law enforcement responsibilities and powers. These lawsuits usually involve a claim of an alleged violation under the 4th amendment claiming an unlawful search or seizure - commonly referred to as a Bivens action - or some other constitutional tort (1st, 5th or 8th Amendment violations) arising out of an enforcement action. To understand civil exposures, you need to understand these three things: (1) You can be sued, (2) DOJ can deny representation, and (3) you can be liable for a judgment whether or not DOJ defends - and - if DOJ or your personal attorney loses and the government denies indemnification, you are liable for the judgment of damages.
Coverage for administrative actions gives you legal representation for any acts, errors, and omissions that result in disciplinary actions or investigations, whether they be from the IG, OSC, Congress, or the agency itself. In these matters, a PLI policy will provide legal representation to help guide you through the interview process, defend against the allegation or claim, attend investigative interviews, and represent you in appeals all the way to the MSPB. Common allegations of wrongdoing for federal law enforcement officers include alleged abuse of investigative authority; alleged abuse of position; alleged failure to properly safeguard weapon; etc.
While criminal charges against you are not as likely as administrative allegations, but have been forced through by pressured prosecutors due to the highly sensitive nature of recent cases, a PLI policy still provides legal representation in this area. Should you face any criminal charges resulting from your performance of duties as a federal law enforcement officer, FEDS would make sure you have an attorney to provide an effective defense.
Enrollment takes 5 minutes! Call 866.955.FEDS Monday – Friday 8am – 6pm ET or enroll online anytime at www.fedsprotection.com. FEDS is an American and veteran owned company with benefits secured by an American owned insurance company. FEDS President is also a former federal law enforcement agency attorney.
FEDS provides professional liability insurance for the entire federal law enforcement community. For information on your specific exposures, how professional liability insurance protects, or how the FEDS program differs from other insurance programs, visit us on the web at fedsprotection.com and choose the position or agency that best describes your job and professional responsibilities.
Posted in The Spotlight