“The union representing Buffalo police officers told its rank and file
members Friday that the union would no longer pay for legal fees to
defend police officers related to the protests…”
From Buffalo News.
This could be excellent news (at least in Buffalo). The threat of lawsuits means police will either be on their best behavior or won’t show up to work.
4 thoughts on “Liability Rules!”
I’m not sure how reliable a source this is, but…
If this obtains, what is the likely effect upon the lives and property of Buffalo dwellers?
I can’t stop thinking about this question now! So I’m going to shoot off some quick thoughts now and return to it later….
The Walrasian in me suspects the cumulative change will be about equal to the amount of taxes currently going to pay for these sorts of suits. The change in rule (if something like this were made permanent) would result in a shift of costs from private citizens on to police.
One thing I would expect is a relative fall in real estate prices in rich neighborhoods and a rise in poorer neighborhoods. I think these distributional effects are where the real interesting part of this question is.
As for safety, it will certainly mean a fall in violence perpetrated by police. I’m not familiar enough with civil law to predict whether this means a cop beating the hell out of an actual criminal would face a cost (given NY, I’d suspect it could).
[…] So I’m optimistic to see reductions in the amount of power government agents can exercise. I’m particularly optimistic to see changes that don’t take the form of “we’re going to manage that bit of power over there with a new bit of power over here” (i.e. regulation). A very short term version of such a change happened when Buffalo’s police union announced they wouldn’t cover the legal fees of their riot squad. […]