“…..the $5.7 million in taxpayer funds paid out since January 2011 would cover the price of a state-of-the-art rec center or renovations at more than 30 playgrounds. And that doesn’t count the $5.8 million spent by the city on legal fees to defend these claims brought against police.”
Here’s an excerpt – do you think you can get some of that money? Sure you can:
complaints and awards
Although the city’s settlements and judgments have totaled $5.7 million since 2011, a state law may have saved Baltimore taxpayers millions of dollars. The Local Government Tort Claims Act caps damages against local governments at $200,000 per claim.
Taxpayers in other cities aren’t as lucky. Cleveland and Dallas have paid between $500,000 and more than $1 million to settle individual police misconduct cases.
The Dallas Police Department has paid $6.6 million in 26 settlements and judgments since 2011; the Miami-Dade County department paid $1.8 million over that period in an unspecified number of cases. Both agencies are similar in size to Baltimore’s.
In addition to the settlements and jury awards, Baltimore has paid $5.8 million to outside law firms to defend those lawsuits and others since July 2010.
According to city policy, officials are bound to defend officers as long as they follow departmental guidelines when using force to make arrests. An agreement between the city and police union guarantees that taxpayers will pay court damages in such cases.
Although police officials declined to release individual personnel records, they did discuss the issue in broad terms, saying that from 2012 through July, the department received 3,048 misconduct complaints against officers. Of those, officials sustained 1,203 complaints — 39 percent — meaning investigators could prove the claims were true.
That led to 61 resignations and discipline for more than 850 officers, measures ranging from written reprimands to suspensions.
But in some cases that resulted in settlements or judgments, officers were not disciplined even after they were found liable in court.
Cherry, the union president, said it would be unfair to discipline officers if they were cleared in internal investigations. He stressed that nobody can predict how a jury will decide cases.
“The [officers] who get the most complaints are the ones who are doing their work,” he said. “These may be some of the best officers.”