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Controlling the costs of law enforcement

Law enforcement is one of the most expensive services a municipality provides. In addition to salaries, benefits, fuel, vehicles and equipment, workers' compensation insurance premiums can have a major budgetary impact.

The physical and often dangerous nature of police work results in not only a high volume of claims but also some of the costliest claims. This chart illustrates this point using claims data from the South Carolina Municipal Insurance Trust, the workers' compensation insurance program operated by the Municipal Association. Police claims in the SCMIT program account for 34 percent of total claims and roughly the same percent of total claims dollars paid.

Some of the top workers' compensation claims for law enforcement include

  • Motor vehicle accidents. Reduce risks by adopting comprehensive vehicle use and pursuit policies and driver training.
  • Shootings. Address this by making the use of ballistic vests mandatory. Require training in firearm use, scenario-based decision making and de-escalation techniques.
  • Sprains and strains. Prevent these by encouraging physical fitness and stretching prior to exercise, training or work-related physical activity.
  • Officers struck by vehicles. Improve safety by requiring the use of reflective gear when operating in or near a roadway. Train officers on proper positioning when approaching occupied vehicles.

While it is impossible to eliminate all the work-related injuries that law enforcement officers may suffer, the frequency and severity of claims can be reduced by proactively adopting, monitoring and enforcing policies that manage risk.

SCMIT claims data
Source: SCMIT claims data