How Much Have American Taxpayers Really Paid for Police Brutality?

By Amanda Warren

Americans have paid a lot for the radicalized and militarized policing. The taxpayers pay through federal grants like the 1033 program that supplies small town police with MRAPs and other gear or they my have their assets seized through civil asset forfeiture.

But, until now, we have been blissfully unaware of how much police brutalization or bad policing has truly cost the taxpayer. Indeed, when brutalization occurs and the city must defend itself in a case or pay out a settlement – who is really paying?

Let’s just say if Bill Gates had to handle the whole tab right now – he’d not only wince but he would be in dire financial straits. Maybe not by our standards, but by his – he’d fear losing his billionaire status. It’s that financially detrimental to our collective wallets.

Truthvoice reports:

Bad policing has cost American taxpayers more than $1 billion, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. WSJ reporters Zusha Elinson and Dan Frosch conducted an in-depth study of public records and found the cost of settling police misconduct cases has almost doubled over a five-year period.


“The 10 cities with the largest police departments paid out $248.7 million last year in settlements and court judgments in police-misconduct cases, up 48 percent from $168.3 million in 2010, according to data gathered by The Wall Street Journal through public-records requests,” reported the WSJ. “Those cities collectively paid out $1.02 billion over those five years in such cases, which include alleged beatings, shootings and wrongful imprisonment.”

[…]

Of all the the cities tracked by the WSJ, New York had the costliest police department, racking up $601.3 million in legal costs over five years. Payments for settlements and judgments jumped from $93.8 in fiscal year 2013 to $165 million in 2014, reported the WSJ. The city recently paid the family of Eric Garner, who was choked to death during an altercation with Staten Island police, a $5.9 million settlement.

Cities have insurance too – and the more claims that are filed, so to speak, the higher the premiums. Rarely, rarely does an officer pay for his or her own damages – the city (ultimately you) picks up the tab. Truthvoice also recounts some costly cases of wrongful imprisonment.

As you can see, that’s only part of a statistic, so $1 billion is only a low, starter estimate. How do you feel about paying for that kind of damage and destruction – damage and destruction that could have happened to you? Furthermore, there is no amount of money that can make up for the loss of a loved one. Unfortunately, it’s just not a rare event anymore.

Again, I can only ask – isn’t it strange to have a system whereby we pay for the privilege of law enforcement who enforce for state revenue which can include civil asset forfeiture and prisoners-for-profit, with no accountability for loss of life or destruction of property – just to start the whole cycle over again? What do we pay for again?

Aside from making real local demands, maybe it is time to start building those citizen and neighborhood response networks?

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10 Comments on "How Much Have American Taxpayers Really Paid for Police Brutality?"

  1. The answer to this problem is mandatory individual professional liability insurance policies for every person involved in law enforcement. Individuals do misdeeds, not cities, counties or states. Individuals should be held accountable.

    If all employees required to carry their own insurance were given a one-time salary increase of the same amount, equally divided among the number of employees, that their hiring agency (city, county, or state) saved by shifting the liability burden, the change would be revenue-neutral. Subsequently, as insurance carriers were free to raise or lower premiums for bad or good cops, good cops would actually see their effective incomes rise and bad cops would see their premiums rise, effectively reducing their income. When the bad cop couldn’t afford the premiums anymore, he or she would voluntarily quit. Within just a few years of the shift of liability from employer to individual, all police forces would be purged of their cowboys and psychopaths, and some measure of security from police assualt in the US would be restored.

    • TARDISOFGALLIFREY | July 27, 2015 at 5:46 pm | Reply

      They already are insured and bonded as so-called public servants. Go after them personally!

      • One of my aircraft mechanic instructors told the class a story about having just done an annual inspection on a plane and found everything okay. A few days later it crashed, killing the two men on board, and the family, as families do, looked about for someone to sue. My instructor was a prime target. He happened to be sitting in his attorney’s office when the family’s attorney called. One of the questions the family’s attorney asked was “Does your client have professional liability insurance?” The answer was “No.” When the attorney got off the phone, he said simply “That’s the last you’ll hear about this.” And he was right.

        The moral of the story is that attorneys will only take cases on a contingency fee basis if the defendant has a big enough pool of money to be worth it to him. Unless a cop has personal professional liability insurance (and they don’t) few lawyers will go after the cop, except as named among a list of defendants along with the government employer, who has access to the taxpayers’ pockets. Most cops, if they have any assets at all, only own their own home — and that cannot be taken in a suit.

        Therein lies the problem: with no assets and no insurance, it will always be the taxpayers who take the hit. Under my plan, the taxpayers are still paying for insurance indirectly as part of the cop’s salary, but, and this is the key, it leaves it up to the insurance companies to decide what is acceptable performance by a cop and what the premium will be. It takes the power to effectively fire bad-risk cops out of the hands of police chiefs (who almost always defend their brethren) and puts it in the hands of a strictly bottom-line oriented independent party, the insurance company.

        • A really good plan for a voluntary society !
          No chance it will be implemented in a society where the members are infected by the “Authority” virus.

  2. “….It’s that financially detrimental to our collective wallets….”

    Isn’t the Great Plan working absolutely perfect !?!

  3. Michael Manley | July 27, 2015 at 3:41 pm | Reply

    Again, as long as the majority of white Amurderkkkans allow this, and want this to happen, it will continue. And when their cities go bankrupt, and there isn’t enough money for essential services, then and only then will they CHOOSE to make it stop. We lay ALL the blame at the feet at white Amurderkkans. Enjoy watching the injustices & brutality whilst is last, because in a fascist police state, it’s always the poor & “middle-class” white plebs who’ve got next…

    Chant down Babylon ism & schism!

  4. TARDISOFGALLIFREY | July 27, 2015 at 5:44 pm | Reply

    Go after the Police-Pukes personally! Make a claim and put a lien on their bonds!

  5. Voter blocs should be organized that can agree on a half dozen items including curbing police bad behavior. To that I suggest people opposed to mandatory vaccinations and Rx “medications” in general, opposition to psychiatry (which has no business even existing) opponents of civil asset forfeiture and opponents of GMO crops. The bloc would target all state legislators who have done ANYTHING to please ANY police union or police fraternal organization.

  6. Sooriamoorthy | July 28, 2015 at 12:04 am | Reply

    Not police brutality, but police criminality; for police murders.

  7. Excuse mongering has become as institutional as civil forfeiture. With decades of baggage, generations of disobedience, and pseudo-science entanglements to address and make amends for, the future should mirror the efforts to find forgiveness similar to apartheid and its leftovers. America should not be enslaved by ignorance and indifference to cannabis therapies, profiteering from healthcare inducements, and deaths from overuse and misuse of petro-chemical based medications making money over safety.

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