This is absurd

That the police in the US often use unnecessary force is well known. What is shocking is how much this abuse is costing the cities. Take the case of New York City that paid out nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to settle thousands of lawsuits against them just in the last year alone. The previous year it was even more. Assuming a city population of ten million, this amounts to an annual tax of about $25 paid by every individual in the city just to settle police abuse cases.

New York City taxpayers spent a whopping $230 million to pay off 6,472 lawsuits settled against the NYPD in the last fiscal year, according to an annual report released Monday by Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office.

The amount reflects settlements made from July 2017 through June 2018, and marks a 32% decrease from the prior year, when the city paid out $335 million for lawsuits against the police department.

Critics say the numbers in the report are not indicative of a reformed police department.

“This is just another spin effort by the comptroller and the Law Department,” said civil rights lawyer Joel Berger. “The trend over the past 10 years tells you there’s a lot of dissatisfaction out there, and not everyone harmed by the police files a lawsuit. Plenty of people decide they don’t want to go through the hassle.”

Berger pointed out that 44% of the claims against the city resolved by settlements of judgement in 2018 were against the NYPD, and took issue with the police department and unions claiming that many of the cases against the NYPD were frivolous.

The size of these signs is a sign of how poorly trained the city’s police department is but the city seems to think that these payouts are just the cost of doing business and not a big flashing signal that the police force needs serious reform. That attitude is similar to the way that big banks treat fines levied against them for illegal activities.


  1. says

    “Only $25/yr to treat you like shit!”

    Part of the problem is insurance companies will insure a police department with a maximum per incident. Typically that’s around $250,000. So the cops are fairly willing to settle for close to or below that, but when it goes over, they fight like cornered, corrupt, armed, rats.

    With payouts like that, I wonder if they are self-insuring and basically lying about the whole insurance thing. It is not unusual for a department to agree to a settlement and then not pay, which is a good strategy for them since they can run out the clock. There is one case of wrongful conviction where the police lost a judgement for $14m for putting a man in prison for 25 years -- and they never paid him, they just ran out the clock and their victim died broke.

  2. khms says

    I’m thinking the US don’t need police reform -- they need to rethink the whole concept.

    Oh, and fix your damn Google login links!

  3. Sam N says

    You’d think this would be a problem, but the expectations of our law enforcement, as demonstrated by your post on eating while black, are so pathetically low. Change will not happen in our lifetimes….

  4. johnson catman says

    khms @2: There is a “Tech Issues” link in the gray bar above Mano’s Title. I use a Google login, and I do not have issues, though I usually login on another blog, then open the link to Mano’s blog from the side panel.

  5. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    The size of these signs is a sign of how poorly trained the city’s police department is but the city seems to think that these payouts are just the cost of doing business and not a big flashing signal that the police force needs serious reform.

    No amount of training will fix it. They need personal responsibility and liability. Whether that comes in the form of being fired, or civil suits, or criminal prosecutions (preferrably all three), nothing will change until individual cops are held individually liable for their personal fuck-ups.

    I don’t expect that they will be regularly fired, because they can only be fired by other cops and shit. That leaves personal civil and criminal liability. Unfortunately, US courts have invented out of their ass rules that protect cops from civil and criminal liability in all but the most extreme situations, and sometimes even in extreme situations. That needs to be fixed. Even if they could be held criminally liable, government criminal prosecutors are very unlikely to do so, and that also needs to be fixed. I don’t know how -- I personally like the idea of allowing victims to be prosecutors in court in cases like this, with the vast majority defaulting to government prosecutors, as a means to control and regulate the police.

    More broadly, what needs to be fixed is our culture that views the police as the thin blue line between criminals and society. That sort of shit has to go. Society needs to view police as hired goons, hired muscle, thugs, bounty hunters, because that is what they are. They are a necessary evil. They are not something to be praised. We need to adopt the right’s rhetoric of being untrusting of goverment power when it comes to police. The unfortunate part is that the right are untrusting of good government programs, and completely loyal to the authoritarian jackboots in uniform.

    See also:
    > Roger Roots*
    > Seton Hall Constitutional L.J. 2001, 685

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