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.