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  • Writer's pictureSam Orlando

The Cost of Police Misconduct: NYC Pays $121 Million in 2022 Alone, Almost $2 Billion in 10 Years!

Photo Credit: Richard C. Bell, Attorney

Written by: Sam Orlando

Police misconduct settlements in New York City hit a five-year high in 2022, totaling $121 million, with six payouts over $10 million accounting for around 60% of the settlements, according to an analysis by the Legal Aid Society. The high amount of settlements highlights the issue of police misconduct in America and the need for greater accountability. Legal Aid staff attorney Jennvine Wong suggests that police misconduct during the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 may have also contributed to the rise in payouts.

Police unions are also part of the problem, as they often protect bad police officers and make it harder to hold them accountable, says Maria Haberfeld, professor of police science at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Settling a lawsuit for police misconduct doesn’t necessarily result in the punishment of officers, and a payout “has no correlation to internal discipline," Haberfeld adds. Yul-san Liem of the Justice Committee also points to the decades-old problem of police accountability for officers who kill and abuse people.

Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association, suggests that the annual totals of settlements are “not a fair or accurate measure” of how police officers have performed. However, Legal Aid's analysis shows that the average settlement totals for lawsuits have gone up since 2018, and the high settlements are alarming. More alarming still, if you look from 2010 to 2020, according to a report by the New York City Comptroller's Office, New York City paid over $1.8 billion in police misconduct settlements and judgments! You might think a decade's worth of information showing nearly $2 Billion dollars in settlements and judgments would convince the fine folks at the Police Benevolent Association, but you'd be wrong.

This is a staggering amount of money that could have been spent on other important areas, such as education, healthcare, and affordable housing. The high cost of police misconduct settlements underscores the need for greater accountability and reform in law enforcement agencies to prevent such incidents from occurring in the first place.

The issue of police misconduct has become a significant problem in America, and the high amount of settlements paid by New York City illustrates the extent of the problem. The need for greater oversight and accountability is critical to address the systemic lack of police accountability for officers who kill and abuse people.

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