By Amanda Warren| Activist Post
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.
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?
This post originally appeared on Activist Post.