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How Much Do Taxpayers Pay For Police Misconduct?

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posted on Jul, 21 2016 @ 10:55 AM
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How Much Do Taxpayers Pay For Police Misconduct?

In a recent open-source effort launched by MuckRock.com, independent researchers are looking at data on police lawsuit payouts dating back to 2009. Among the types of lawsuits analyzed include wrongful-shooting deaths, excessive force complaints, illegal searches etc.

Early findings show that during the last five years a combined $16.6 million was spent by taxpayers in just four cities alone to settle 122 police-misconduct lawsuits. Those cities are: Indianapolis, Austin, San Jose, and San Francisco.

Here are some more figures from the article:

Philadelphia: $40 million (584 of 1,223 lawsuits since January 2009)
New York City: $428+ million (since 2009)
Baltimore: $5.7 million (Plus $5.8 million in legal fees)
Chicago: $500 million (over past decade); $84.6 (last year alone)
Los Angeles: $54 million (includes negligence and other claims)
Oakland: $74 million to settle 417 lawsuits since 1990.
Denver: $13 million (over last 10 years)
Dallas: $6+ million (since 2011)
Minneapolis: $21 million (since 2003)

Note: These figures refer to municipal police departments; costs for county sheriff departments would be in addition to these amounts.


“In theory, the cost of these lawsuits are supposed to inspire better oversight, better government, and better policing,” says notable author, Washington Post columnist, and police brutality critic Radley Balko. “When taxpayers see their hard-earned money spent to compensate victims of police misconduct, they vote for political leaders who will hold cops more accountable. Or at least that’s the theory. I’m not sure how effective that is. I’ve seen little evidence that people generally vote on these issues, even in municipal elections.”

And that's a crying shame... but it is the reality. We must do better. So, presuming that we do in fact want to reduce (even end) brutality and excessive force by law enforcement -- and I sure do, and I know many others do as well -- what can we do? What works? The article offers a few remedies:
  • Higher standards for LEO conduct
  • Better training for LEOs
  • Dash/body cams for LEOs
  • Officers pay legal fees/settlement costs
  • Privatization of Prisons (the preferred choice of the author of the article)
  • Federal oversight (takeover) of local policing (Obama and BLM and other's preferred choice)

Of those, I wholeheartedly support the first three; and I'm willing to discuss the fourth, with qualifications; but I completely reject the last two. The first suggestion would cost virtually nothing; but the rot starts at the top, and if the head honchos wanted to uphold higher standards they would and we wouldn't have the problems to begin with. The second -- better training -- would also require increased costs, but could possibly pay for itself over the long run; as would the third suggestion, with statistical evidence that it greatly reduces financial costs and, naturally, the attendant complaints and lawsuits as well:

After the city of Rialto, California required its 70 police officers to wear portable video cameras on the job however, police brutality statistics fell by 60 percent in the city, according to a controlled study recorded by the department. In 2012 alone, complaints against Rialto police officers fell 88 percent.

Probably because people tend to act better when they know others are (or may) be watching. So BOTH cops and civilians act better. Win-win for everyone, right? (With appropriate guidelines and restrictions of course, such as these developed by the ACLU with law enforcement input). Obviously, these cameras (and storage of the video) also cost money... but these costs would presumably be offset by the reduction in financial settlements.

Likewise, costs for improved training for law enforcement agents would also be offset by fewer complaints/lawsuits and therefore decreased settlement costs.

There is always the option of defunding and disbanding city police departments; which would leave law enforcement primarily in the hands of the county sheriff. I'm not sure how cost effective that would be though; taxpayers/cities would still have to pay for the increased costs to the sheriff's department. On the plus side, sheriffs are elected officials, so this gives the people a voice via their vote. But that only matters if the voters make it matter. That sure didn't happen in L.A. County.

Of course, I suppose another option is to defund and disband ALL law enforcement agencies... but that ain't going to happen -- and rightfully so. I would, however, like to see a whole slew of laws -- victimless crimes -- be removed from the books. Ending the policing-for-profit would go a long way towards letting people be who aren't hurting anyone, keeping our LEOs fighting real crimes that do hurt others, and save us all a boatload of money.

The problem is real. It hurts all of us directly or indirectly, one way or another, to one extent or another. And it is being exploited and extorted by many for their own personal gain -- at OUR expense. But there are many responsible and reasonable folks out there, including law enforcement officials (active and retired) who are (and have been) pointing out the problems and offering practical and reasonable solutions for some time. Their voices have been drowned out by the unreasonable and inflammatory voices. But only because we allow it.

When we address the real root problems and start making reasonable reforms, we will take all their power away. Here's a start. Where can we agree? Where can we find and establish a foundation to build from?

And how do we get the ones with the power and authority to make these reforms actually do it?




posted on Jul, 21 2016 @ 11:18 AM
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It cost tax payers a lot of money... a lot.

There will always be police misconduct as police are not infallible. No one is. However, what makes it so expensive is the combination of unions and political bureaucracies trying to protect their jobs. It isn't the crime that is so damaging, but the cover up.

Instead of just getting rid of bad cops, the unions protect them. The politicians rather sweep stuff under a rug as to not jeopardize their upcoming elections (cough, Rahm).

I agree that there needs to be better training and screening of police. On the flip side, I also think there needs to be better outreach was well within communities to help normalize relationships.



posted on Jul, 21 2016 @ 11:30 AM
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a reply to: Edumakated

Well said -- thank you!

I'm very glad you brought up the unions. I think they are a huge part of the problem, not just because of the "terms" they have negotiated for LEO contracts, but because they have fanned the flames in their own way.

It wouldn't be so hard for them to admit that there are bad cops, and it would go a long way for them to admit that -- rather than protecting them... along with reaffirming that all lives matter, and the vast majority of cops never ever want to kill anyone.

And you're right, community outreach is an absolute must, including education of the community. Perhaps part of getting a driver's license should be an understanding of what to do and what not to do when being pulled over for a traffic violation. Put cops and drivers on the same page so both know what is expected of themself and the other. And maybe for drivers who are carrying a weapon, again so that both the driver and the officer know what they need to do and what the other should be doing.
edit on 21-7-2016 by Boadicea because: deleted "have" -- so not "all lives have matter" but "all lives matter"



posted on Jul, 21 2016 @ 11:32 AM
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no wonder that the cities,states and the country is going bankrupt. Billions of dollars a year in just settlements,add to that the legal fees and we`are talking a lot of money.


Baltimore, Maryland has spent $5.7 million on settlements and awards, and another $5.8 million in legal fees.


That`s billions of dollars EVERY year,where do they get that money from? in the above example i`m pretty sure baltimore didn`t have an extra 11 million dollars just lying around,they probably had to borrow it.Do you think they will be able to pay off that 11 million dollar loan in 1 year? if they don`t then next year they will have millions of dollars more in settlements added to that 11 million.
It`s not the city that`s actually paying out those millions of dollars every year,it`s the tax payers,and so begins a downward spiral.Taxes keep getting raised to pay the settlements, more people and businesses leave the city and eventually you end up with another detroit.

why are the hard working tax payers being punished for the actions of the police?, there has to be a better way.



posted on Jul, 21 2016 @ 11:40 AM
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a reply to: Tardacus

I agree totally -- albeit sadly


The reforms are out there, but it's not being done. And in fact, it seems all the attention is being focused everywhere BUT the appropriate reforms. If I thought it would do any good, I'd contact BLM myself and say, "THIS is where you should be demanding change!!!"

When folks are chanting threats instead of reforms, there's a bigger problem.



posted on Jul, 21 2016 @ 11:52 AM
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a reply to: Boadicea

Yah what do precincts care, they don't have to pay for damages. Maybe if it came out of their budget, they would ask more first and shoot less.



posted on Jul, 21 2016 @ 12:01 PM
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originally posted by: intrptr
a reply to: Boadicea

Yah what do precincts care, they don't have to pay for damages. Maybe if it came out of their budget, they would ask more first and shoot less.


You bring up a good point, and I agree in that the rot starts -- and ends -- at the top. If the ones calling the shots didn't allow bad cops to do bad things and keep their jobs, it wouldn't even have a chance to grow into such a big problem.

I'd like to see something done to hold these people responsible as well. Financially, criminally, civilly -- they are aiding and abetting criminal conduct under the pretense of enforcing the law... and all the while allowing the people to be abused and brutalized under color of law.



posted on Jul, 21 2016 @ 12:17 PM
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a reply to: Boadicea

Bearing in mind it is very difficult to sue the Police we actually pay a lot of money. for their mistakes especially those involving M Ps etc and their expenses…..

I know when a friend was accused of a crime and arrested it cost him his job, reputation and he nearly committed suicide due to the pressure he was put under. Even the press were ghastly trying to take photos of him. However in the end when it eventually went to court, the judge dismissed the charges and said he wondered how on earth they had been allowed to stand. Of course it wasn't the police exactly but the defence solicitors and barristers that had demanded he took a loan to pay them up front (all from a company acting for the solicitors (( very in house)) I thought. To sue for wrongful arrest etc he would have had to raise £6,500n to put on the table. He, like most didn't bother because he needed to get on with his life and try to repair the damage this caused, however he still has this sheer nonsense on his 'record' and CAB report because it can't be removed.

Its not only the police that cost the public its the legal industry as a whole which adds to the costs. Its a new trick to get people to take out loans from solicitor sister companies but a very nice little earner whether the police have the prosecution right or wrong.

Our legal system is coming into disrepute from a few muslim judges who think that rapists should be given lighter sentences because of their thinking on the crime of rape which I doubt helps the police and their costs of prosecuting these villains, which isn't helped by an appreciative judge to the defence. This is something new because it conflicts with the impartiality of the law but will add costs to say nothing also of the disgust and disrespect it will harbour towards our legal system.

We have lost British integrity within our parliament and institutions like the Police. Its something that's very sad.

However, I am going to say that our Police Force, although it has changed considerably from the British Bobby in order to transit from the East End Gangs to what we have today it still do a good job. However, they have moved with the times and have lost a lot of respect from the innocent public and offenders alike but the Police is an odd job which sets those who join apart and they have gone from being within our community to now dealing with our communities as though we are all criminals, which is a shame but deliberate policy forced, I suspect on them by the government.



posted on Jul, 21 2016 @ 12:32 PM
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a reply to: Shiloh7

Thanks for sharing such a thoughtful response


It's much the same here -- people are priced out of the justice system... if not made a debt slave to it.... and for the same reasons. Greed and avarice. And people shouldn't have to sell their soul for what is right and what we pay so much for.

It's really pathetic our congress critters are overwhelmingly lawyers -- but they're the ones who broke it. I doubt they could fix it if they tried (much less wanted to!) Now I can't help but wonder if your parliament the same?



posted on Jul, 21 2016 @ 01:06 PM
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D'oh!!! A couple more I meant to add to the OP and then completely forgot:

1 -- Investigations of officer shootings should be done by an separate law enforcement agency; no more "policing" themselves; it hasn't worked.

2 -- An independent review board comprising civilians as well as legal professionals that can review the performance and recommend dismissal if appropriate (even if criminal charges are not).

3 -- Immediate drug testing of officers after shooting a civilian, including steroids, subject to immediate dismissal if positive.

These are suggestions from other threads (not the OP article).



posted on Jul, 21 2016 @ 01:22 PM
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You know what the best way to fix police misconduct could be? Take every lawsuit payment right out of the city's retirement funds first.

I'll guaran-damn-tee the shenanigans would stop on-the-spot.



posted on Jul, 21 2016 @ 01:24 PM
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I would like to know, out of all those payouts, how many were frivolous, how many were settlements, where no guilt was found, but they payed the family off to make it go away, prevent riots, etc. I would also like to know why on Earth do the families of criminals, where the shooting was justified, get paid?

If there are lies in probably 98% of justified shootings, then how many lies are in all of these lawsuits? Do criminals only lie about shootings, but tell the truth about other misconduct?



posted on Jul, 21 2016 @ 01:36 PM
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originally posted by: Snarl
You know what the best way to fix police misconduct could be? Take every lawsuit payment right out of the city's retirement funds first.

I'll guaran-damn-tee the shenanigans would stop on-the-spot.


You may be right... but only if we could target it in such a way that it doesn't hurt good cops. I don't like that either. Good cops are stuck between a rock and a hard place with no real options.



posted on Jul, 21 2016 @ 01:42 PM
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a reply to: iTruthSeeker

That would be interesting to know... maybe you can find some figures or something and share here, and why you consider that significant.

As far as why families receive settlements when no criminal charges are filed, there are many reasons for that. But the one most pertinent to this thread is that the prosecutors who decide if/when charges are filed are more interested in protecting bad cops than prosecuting bad cops. So they pay out settlements to make sure the case never goes to court and the real evidence is never made public -- including nondisclosure and nondisparagement clauses in the settlement agreement to ensure their silence.



posted on Jul, 21 2016 @ 01:43 PM
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originally posted by: Boadicea

originally posted by: Snarl
You know what the best way to fix police misconduct could be? Take every lawsuit payment right out of the city's retirement funds first.

I'll guaran-damn-tee the shenanigans would stop on-the-spot.


You may be right... but only if we could target it in such a way that it doesn't hurt good cops. I don't like that either. Good cops are stuck between a rock and a hard place with no real options.

It needs to hurt everyone ... and I'm not just talking' cops here. It needs to affect the city grounds-keeper, the custodian, supervisor of elections, the mayor ... you name it.

If you get 'em all involved, the bad cops are gonna be singled out ... and fired. First: everyone's money needs to be put at risk. Then ... you'll get your solution.



posted on Jul, 21 2016 @ 01:47 PM
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a reply to: Snarl

You make a good point.

I admit I used it with my kids. I was the koolaid mom where everyone's kids played and there were a few times when I sent everyone home -- and my kids to their rooms -- even if one kid acted up. The kids did learn to police themselves because it was in their best interests to do so.



posted on Jul, 21 2016 @ 03:27 PM
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a reply to: Boadicea

They pay for it all, from lawsuits to salaries to equipment and they pay for the stupidity of all on both sides of the law, they get treated stricter because of others actions, the get targeted because of others actions, they pay the price everywhere, every day every way.



posted on Jul, 21 2016 @ 03:27 PM
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Privatize the police!
Get them off the federal dime and make them work for the people again!
I know it sounds crazy but hear me out.
If the police were on an annual contract that is renewed based on performance they would be more inclined to serve the community and less inclined to do things that would jeopardize the relationship with the community. As it stands they get payed no matter how they perform and most are just trying to make it through the day alive.

Benefits would be quicker response times, better individual training and mental evaluations, armed accordingly by the community and not with military hardware from the DOD, more police community interaction, reintroduction of the "beat cop", half the cost to the payer. No community or county is the same and the policing methods must be flexible. The best people to express the needs of the community is the community itself not some ignorant bureaucrats in DC.

People need to let go of the mentality that the federal government is capable of taking care of the individuals needs. Especially when it comes to policing and imprisonment. It's because of the federal government and prison union lobbyists we have private for profit prisons and a federalized militarized police force to keep the prisons at maximum capacity.

But that leads to the million dollar question...
Are the people of America still active and self aware enough to put the breaks on this?
Or are we more concerned with what bathroom people use or if a candidate has real hair or not?
Good example of private police.


That Guy T puts this far more eloquently than I ever can...



posted on Jul, 21 2016 @ 03:27 PM
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a reply to: Boadicea

They pay for it all, from lawsuits to salaries to equipment and they pay for the stupidity of all on both sides of the law, they get treated stricter because of others actions, the get targeted because of others actions, they pay the price everywhere, every day every way.



posted on Jul, 21 2016 @ 03:27 PM
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a reply to: Boadicea

They pay for it all, from lawsuits to salaries to equipment and they pay for the stupidity of all on both sides of the law, they get treated stricter because of others actions, the get targeted because of others actions, they pay the price everywhere, every day every way.



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