SB20-217 concerns law enforcement accountability and includes several provisions that have implications for pool insurance coverage. For an overview of the Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Act click here.
Based on the manuscript form of the CAPP policy, which is designed to meet the current and expanding needs of counties, claims that arise under the provisions contained in SB20-217 will be handled in the ordinary course of business, like all other claims against a member county.
Every claim has its own facts and circumstances that affect how the claim is treated. Particularly when the law is changed in a way that is intended to expand liability, there are some unknowns about how it will be interpreted. However, CAPP property coverage continues to apply to county-owned property, including body-worn cameras and dashboard cameras. CAPP’s liability policy still covers a deputy’s conduct, like any other county employee, unless the deputy’s employer determines that they did not act in good faith or a reasonable belief in the lawfulness of their actions.
Some CAPP member counties have asked about providing guidance and support to their law enforcement officials and have proactively indicated that they “intend to indemnify” their deputies, including the costs of legal defense, unless the deputy is convicted of a criminal violation. While it is difficult to assess a deputy’s good faith or reasonable belief before their conduct has occurred, under the law, it is within the employer’s discretion to make that determination.
Good risk management practice suggests that members should have conduct policies in place, train on adherence to the policies, and hold violators accountable.
As of July 1, 2023, the act requires all local law and county enforcement agencies and the Colorado state patrol to issue body-worn cameras to their officers with some exceptions. It states, “A peace officer shall wear and activate a body-worn camera when responding to a call for service or during any interaction with the public initiated by the peace officer when enforcing the law or investigating possible violations of the law.”
The liability of the Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Act means it is more important than ever for county officials and employees to be aware of the laws and policies that guide their conduct and to abide by them. If you have questions about the law or the numerous training opportunities that are available to CTSI members, contact us at (303) 861-0507 or visit https://www.ctsi.org.
In 2010 and 2013, legislation was enacted to allow counties to purchase crime insurance in lieu of surety bonds for elected officials, staff, other named insureds, and public trustees.
This legislation saves CAPP member counties money by not purchasing bonds because CAPP member county-named insureds have $10 million in public officials’ liability (E&O) coverage and $1 million in crime coverage. These coverages are greater than the prior statutory bond requirements and are provided through CAPP coverage at no additional charge.
Those individuals who were or are now elected or appointed officials of the Named Insureds, including members of their governing bodies or any other committees, trustees, boards, or commissions of the Named Insureds; district attorneys, their assistants, and staff while acting for or on behalf of district attorneys; agents, volunteers, and Useful Public Servants; all the foregoing while acting for or on behalf of the Named Insureds.
Exception: Members of the following boards or commissions are not Insureds: Housing Authorities, Port Authorities, School Boards, or Railroad Boards.
Surety bonds were initially meant to protect taxpayers against wrongdoings on the part of county officials. However, the surety bond protection became outdated and did not offer as much protection.
Indemnification clauses in the surety bond contracts require the county or the county official to reimburse the court costs that the surety bond company takes on, even if the lawsuit is thrown out of court. Insurance contracts do not have such personal indemnification clauses. Additionally, using insurance instead of sureties is preferred because, in the past, a county official could be held personally liable for court costs resulting from a frivolous lawsuit.
In some instances, when applying for a grant, the county may be required to secure a bond as a condition of receiving the grant. In these cases, the county should purchase a bond to move forward with the project. You should ask the grant agency if your CAPP coverage will suffice, but they may still require a bond.
If you participate on a board that is not insured by CAPP and are required to have a surety bond, a bond will need to be purchased for that purpose.
CAPP member counties save money by not having to purchase bonds while obtaining greater protection than bonds afford. Refer to C.R.S. 30-10-110 for detailed information on crime coverage in lieu of bonds. For more information, contact CTSI at (303) 861 0507.