President Donald Trump recently announced his intention to “indemnify” the police, offering legal protection to officers in reaction to public calls for police reform in the wake of high-profile shootings of unarmed Black Americans. However, according to experts, many police departments already provide these protections and the President’s proposal may make little difference.
Trump has proposed indemnifying police departments across the country that have seen protests, with some demonstrations escalating into violence. In response, Trump is calling on localities to offer the same legal protection for police officers that other civil servants receive. Under the proposed plan, individual police officers would be protected from any potential civil liability when responding to duties on the job.
Despite the president’s proposal, many experts say that many police forces already enjoy this legal protection, with city and state laws that protect officers from being sued, even if their actions are deemed wrongful or even criminal. In addition, police unions often negotiate additional safeguards, such as no-fault policies for wrongful death claims resulting from police activity.
While the White House has yet to offer any details on how the proposed indemnity plan would work or how it would be implemented, experts point out that there is reason to be skeptical of the proposed reform. Without a clear plan or specifics, the President’s proposal could potentially open police officers to broader legal liability, or do nothing to increase the legal protection already in place.
With no clear plan in place, experts are hesitant to give the proposal the benefit of the doubt. While it is possible that such a proposal could bring meaningful changes to police reform, it is unlikely that the President’s plan will make a major impact in the current law.