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Why federal law enforcement officers need Professional Liability Insurance

This content is provided by FEDS Protection.

For better or worse, law enforcement officers often find themselves in the public spotlight. Unfortunately, even officers with excellent conduct that consistently adhere to regulations and federal policies aren’t immune to allegations of wrongdoing. Accusations can be made by anyone, including criminal offenders, members of the public, co-workers, special interest groups, or members of Congress, among others. However, Professional Liability Insurance (PLI) is available and can play a vital role in safeguarding the officers sworn to serve and protect others.

What kinds of professional liability risks do LEOS face?

In today’s federal workforce, there is often widespread misunderstanding about what kinds of professional exposures federal law enforcement officers are vulnerable to and how PLI helps provide protection. Typically, PLI coverage comes into play for federal law enforcement officers when a major event, operational issue, or action within the scope of their employment allegedly results in a security breach, safety concern, public alarm, injury, death, or other oversight. FEDS Protection provides coverage for each of these types of exposure. Many federal law enforcement officers underestimate their exposure to a personal capacity lawsuit – every officer must understand:

  • Federal law enforcement officers can be sued.
  • DOJ can deny representation
  • Officers can be held liable for a judgment.

Federal officers also have additional exposures beyond civil liability, including administrative and criminal risks. Federal employees are often the subject of administrative investigations and disciplinary proceedings for actions taken while performing their law enforcement duties. Sometimes, these actions can also result in criminal investigations. Any one of these scenarios can prove devastating to the career and finances of a federal law enforcement officer.

How does PLI help federal law enforcement officers?

Bivens actions/lawsuits against federal law enforcement officers in their personal capacity can and do occur. Moreover, administrative investigations and disciplinary actions are commonplace throughout the federal government. A PLI policy protects officers by:

  • Providing Legal Defense: A PLI policy provides a defense attorney if the DOJ determines it isn’t “in the interest of the United States” to represent a federal law enforcement officer in a Bivens action/civil suit resulting from actions taken in the scope of their employment. A defense is also provided if an officer is the subject of an administrative or criminal investigation or a disciplinary action resulting from actions taken in the scope of their employment.
  • Paying Damages: A FEDS PLI policy provides indemnity protection if an officer is found liable for a monetary judgment in a personal capacity lawsuit resulting from actions taken in the scope of their employment and the agency chooses not to indemnify, even if the DOJ defends the case.

In recognition of the heightened exposures federal law enforcement officers face, the federal government requires agencies to reimburse their law enforcement officers up to 50% of the cost of PLI.  The government’s willingness to provide this reimbursement highlights how important it is for federal law enforcement officers to have PLI.

What is optional LEOSA coverage and why do federal law enforcement officers need it?

Congress enacted the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004 (LEOSA) and the LEOSA Improvement Act of 2010 to provide qualified off-duty and retired federal law enforcement officers who meet certain conditions the right to carry a concealed weapon to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.  LEOSA does not confer law enforcement authority or otherwise bestow the authority to enforce the law—instead, it explicitly overrides state and local laws to allow qualified off-duty and retired federal LEOs to carry a concealed weapon and exempts them from state law concealed carry requirements.  What LEOSA does not do is shield those federal LEOs from the potential civil and criminal exposure if they perform a legal and justified act under LEOSA.

As with federal employee professional liability exposure, LEOSA liability exposure becomes a concern for federal LEOs if the agency finds that the officer was acting outside of scope, outside of the interest of the U.S. to defend, and/or outside of agency LEOSA authority for off-duty incidents.  At the request of the federal law enforcement community, FEDS specifically designed an additional LEOSA coverage option that provides civil liability coverage and legal defense costs for damage caused by a lawful act under LEOSA, along with criminal defense costs resulting from a lawful act under LEOSA and against state charges of unlawful carriage of a firearm or federally legal ammunition when lawfully carrying under LEOSA or a CCW.

Bottom line

Federal law enforcement officers who don’t have a professional liability insurance policy in place may find the financial and professional consequences of an administrative action, disciplinary proceeding, or lawsuit to be devastating. Fortunately, FEDS Protection focuses on protecting federal law enforcement officers through affordable legal representation and indemnity coverage. Enrollment takes just 5 minutes and a PLI policy through FEDS Protection starts at just $290 per year (before any applicable agency reimbursement)–less than the typical cost of 1 hour of an attorney’s time–providing you with peace of mind should an unforeseen event occur.

If you have questions about your specific risks or the kinds of insurance coverage available, contact FEDS Protection at 866-955-FEDS or visit us at www.fedsprotection.com. Not all policies are created equal, and FEDS Protection’s level of expertise, extensive product knowledge, and world-class customer service have made us an industry standout, trusted by leading federal employee associations across the nation.

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