How Police Misconduct Affects Cities and Taxpayers Financially


For months. Protests over the police involved killings of Briana Taylor, George Floyd and others reinvigorated an intense debate over policing. Then the mayor of Louisville, Kentucky, announced the city would pay $12 million to Briana Taylor's family and institute. A number of police reforms that highlighted an aspect less discussed the financial impact of police misconduct on cities and taxpayers. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports. City's Khun face hundreds of lawsuits every year, charging, among other things, that police used excessive or deadly force or made a false arrest. Many times. Details of settlements are hidden behind confidentiality agreements. Law professor Joanna Schwartz studies how jurisdictions budget and pay for police legal expenses, she says. Although payouts Khun Total in the millions more often there in the thousands of dollars range and with an important determining factor, the number of cases filed and the number of dollars that are paid to resolve cases. Depends very much on where in the country you live claims against Big City Police Department's cost taxpayers about $300 million last year. One of the arguments in the ongoing protests over policing is that money for police could be better spent elsewhere and the clash between protesters and police following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Means Minneapolis and other cities could face a myriad of legal cost. In Chicago. Several groups work to resolve cases of people who have been wrongfully convicted. Two years ago, a federal jury awarded $17 million to Jack Rivera and was considered one of the largest police misconduct settlements in the city's history. I say that was kidnapped by the Chicago police, Roger Li. 55 years old. Now Rivera spent 21 years in prison for a murder. He did not commit framed, he says, by a now retired Chicago gang crimes. Detective Rivera is one of at least 20 who have been exonerated in cases where that detective lead the investigations. They set out to rob You convict me for whatever reasons why Rather, it was just a con the community that they got the perpetrator. Or whatever it may be. It's still not right because taxpayers have to pay for it. Victim's family have to relive this all over again what they think it's closed, and it's just painful for everybody. Over the past decade, Chicago has paid about a half billion dollars for police misconduct. Rivera attorney Locke Bowman is the head of the MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern Law School, he says in cases where misconduct is clear, said he's often continue to fight against the allegations for months, sometimes years, and that could mean a hefty price tag for taxpayers. The decision to settle a case like that early ends up saving money for attorney's fees. And can result in Ah lower settlement before everybody gets dug in, and the price of the case goes up insurance policies and local budgets usually pay for judgments and claims. Jurisdictions hurting for cash may borrow issuing bonds to spread out payment, add bank fees and interest to investors. And those cost pile up with taxpayer's footing. The bill for police misconduct and as covert 19 devastates budgets nationwide. That could be a more frequent scenario. Chicago City Council Finance Committee Chairman Scott Waguespack says the city is working to break that expensive pattern and concentrating on police reforms so that we're not just saying, Okay, here's another settlement and good job negotiating it and move on, but really look at the deep seated issues within the department to start rooting out those problems. Activists argue tying police misconduct cost to police budgets could help prevent police wrongdoing as well as making police officers especially repeat offenders financially accountable. Currently so called qualified immunity rules shield officers from those costs that's changed in Colorado State representative Leslie Hair. It was the force behind the state's decision to drop its qualified immunity provisions. A new law requires officers guilty of wrongdoing to pay up to $25,000 and that if they were found to have acted in bad faith, violating someone's right, possibly ending in death. That they actually had to be held person responsible, just like anyone else who violated their policies and their obligations at their work with the law also allows officers to purchase liability insurance. Other jurisdictions looking to reduce police related lawsuits may follow that hybrid model of splitting settlement costs between cities and individual officers that just as victims or the families of people injured or killed by police misconduct. Continue to seek Justice. Cheryl Corley. NPR NEWS Chicago

Coming up next