Lawsuits, legal payouts against cops on the rise
The city Law Department says the 28% rise in lawsuits against the police isn't a cause for concern, but not everyone is convinced.
The mayor's management report found that 2,004 civil cases were filed against the NYPD during the 2012 fiscal year compared to 1,563 cases the prior fiscal year.. The New York World, which first reported the data, found that many of the cases are still being deliberated and it could create a problem with the city's finances.
Last year, the city doled out $80 million for NYPD lawsuits.The city's Law Department said although the number is large it doesn't mean that the police are constantly at fault or that it would lead to serious problems for the city's budget.
"Rather, it is a complex business judgment based on, among other things, the inherent risks of litigation," a spokeswoman for the department said of its decision to settle cases.
Civil rights attorney Ron Kuby disagreed.
Kuby said the mayor and police commissioner are focused on bringing crime down that they don't consider the civil rights repercussions of their "excessive" force let alone the financial repercussions.
"This reaffirms their precedent that if you want to do everything to get the crime down, it doesn't matter what the payout is," he said.
Councilman Peter Vallone, a former trial attorney who is the chair of the Council's Public Safety Committee, said he is very concerned about the growing lawsuits against the city and said he has pushed for the NYPD to take a more aggressive stance in court, rather than settling.
He noted that Chicago is taking more of their lawsuits to litigation instead of settlements and have paid less in the end.
"If you fight the cases where you're not guilty, yes you have to pay a lot in the short term . . . but in the long term people won't file frivolous cases," he said.