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Trump Promises Protection for Police: Experts Show Reality is Already in Place

President Donald Trump recently vowed to indemnify the police in response to the violence that has sparked nationwide in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Though some experts are skeptical that this vow will be fulfilled, they are also pointing out that in many police departments across the United States, officers are already indemnified from certain types of civil liability. Indemnification is a concept that has been around since the 18th century and is defined as a contractual agreement wherein one party agrees to protect another party from loss or damage. It is often granted to those who are dealing with a high degree of risk or liability, such as members of the armed services or police officers. Indemnification is not the same as immunity and does not provide officers with absolute protection from all types of civil suits. Instead, indemnification shields the officer from certain grievances and legal claims stemming from their actions while on duty. For instance, if a police officer is accused of violating someone’s rights through negligent or malicious conduct, they can be sued and may only be liable if it can be proven that they acted intentionally, in bad faith, or with reckless disregard for the wellbeing of another person. Additionally, the officers will still have to go through a trial or arbitration process to defend their claim. Though most police departments across the United States already have indemnification policies in place, the extent of their protection may vary. According to some experts, Trump’s vow would be most beneficial to police departments in smaller towns and cities, which may not have access to a high-quality legal defense team. At the end of the day, Trump’s vow to indemnify the police is a laudable effort aimed at curtailing police violence, but it’s important to again note that most police departments already have some form of indemnification policy in place. Whether or not his vow will actually result in any fundamental changes in the way that police departments operate remains to be seen.