Who Pays For Police Misconduct?

By @TrishaMarczakMP |
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    (MintPress) — As incidents of police brutality and misconduct rise in cities throughout the nation, so does the price tag for the American people, who ultimately carry the cost associated with investigations, administrative leaves and million dollar settlements. The burden to the officers themselves is often nothing more than a pink slip and, in the worst-case-scenario, loss of employment.

    That’s the story right now in Jonesboro, Ark., where a mother is grieving the loss of her 21-year-old son, who police allege shot himself while he was handcuffed in the back of a squad car.

    Teresa Carter told WREG, a local news station, that the shot was fired in her son’s right temple, although he was left-handed. She also claims that at some point, her son had called his girlfriend to inform her he would be calling her from jail.

    “I mean, I just want to know what really happened,” she told the news station.

    The story of Chavis Carter’s alleged suicide is raising the eyebrows not only of his family and community, but also within the Jonesboro Police Department, where an internal investigation has been launched. The two police officers on the scene have been placed on administrative leave.

    At this time, Carter’s mother has not filed a civil lawsuit, but if it comes to that and the police department offers a settlement, the money will not be taken from the officers’ pension funds or paychecks — and will instead be taken from the department’s coffers, which is made up of government-funded taxpayer dollars.

    If the case is anything like a recent one in Chicago, the officers could even keep their jobs.


    Who pays when police misbehave?

    In 2006, Rennie Simmons, a 20-year Chicago Water Department employee — and stroke victim — visited the home of Glenn Evans to issue a notice that that water to the property could be cut off, due to lack of payment. Court records indicate that while there, Evans tackled the man to the ground, causing multiple injuries, according to a court complaint. Following the altercation, Evans arrested him — turns out Evans is a lieutenant.

    Simmons was arrested and charged with committing battery against Evans and was eventually found not guilty in Cook County Court, during a time in which the judge shared harsh words with Simmons. Evans kept his job, and continues to receive a six-figure salary. He did not contribute to the $99,999 payout given to Simmons after a settlement was reached over a civil complaint regarding the same incident.

    In July, two settlements led to the payouts of $7.17 million for victims who alleged torture by former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge.

    In these cases, Burge was convicted of trying to cover up the torture, and he served more than four years in prison as a result. Yet the cost of the settlements fell on the shoulders of the government agency, funded through taxpayers.

    In February, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) announced a victory when they reached a $6.2 million settlement in a class action lawsuit stemming from the arrest of 700 anti-war protesters in 2003 by Chicago officers. While the NLG did not argue police brutality, they did cite police misconduct, as arrests made were violations of the protesters’ right to peacefully assemble. The crowd was also not ordered to disperse before arrests were made.

    In Seattle, an agreement was reached between the police department and Justice Department in July to create a police commission tasked with monitoring police behavior and increasing citizen input following the shooting of a homeless Native American man in 2010. He died from gunshot wounds inflicted by an officer. In that case, investigators deemed the action to be unconstitutional, as excessive force had been used.

    These incidents only represent the thousands of cases of police misconduct and brutality carried out in the U.S. each year. According to the CATO Institute’s National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project (NPMSRP), $347.4 million was spent between April 2009 and June 2010 on settlements and judgements related to misconduct and brutality. That price tag reflects 5,986 separate incidents during that time period, 382 of which resulted in fatalities.

    In its annual report, the CATO Institute claims the numbers through 2010 remained consistent, with $346.5 million spent on related judgements, settlements, court costs and attorney fees from January-December 2010. During that time, the organization’s statistics show 4,861 incidents reported throughout the year, involving more than 6,600 law enforcement officials and 6,826 victims.

    Yet with consistently high numbers and settlements reaching in the millions, it seems there has been no other solution presented other than to deal with the issue at hand, reach into the settlement funds and move on. The numbers show the tactic isn’t necessarily deterring the actions, and the cost continues to mount for taxpayers.


    What’s the solution?

    When a law enforcement official steps out of his or her bounds and harms an individual without due cause, the initial action by an officer’s department is to launch an internal investigation. During that time period, the officer is typically put on administrative leave, a time in which they continue to receive salary payments.

    If a settlement is reached, the law enforcement department is tasked with turning over the payment — the financial threat to the officer in question is nothing more than a pink slip, or in some cases, the loss of employment. The financial burden of such settlements and leaves lies on the shoulders of the very people who are attempting to hold the officials accountable for their harmful actions.

    Creating a system within the law enforcement departments that would somehow tie officers’ wages to settlements relating to their behavior could perhaps deter officers from acting out, knowing that the burden would be seen within their bank account, rather than a settlement fund they have no control over.

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    • david morgan

      I gotten beat down by an Denison police officer name officer doughlas that was on the denison Texas police department my neice is white and im black in July of 2012 and 35yr man had hit my neice in the mouth and she was only 13yrs old.and it was 25plus eyewitness was there the officer left the crime sene and walkedto an public park and he was getting information from her about the man hitting her.i was 600ft. Away from them just standing not saying an word just listening. The next thing i knew officer Doughlas had said to me what the fuck u looking at i will take your black fucking ass to jail and lock ur black ass up! All in front of those eyewittness,they looked at him like they couldnt beleave what they just heard him say.Then they looked at me to see what im going to say. So i told officer Daughlas that first. Of all i got the right to be here its an public park,number 2 im not cursing or threaten u in no form or fashion way,and third i am family so the next thing i knew officer Doughlas had grab my caine which im disable grab me by the hair an slamed me into the concrete broke my fingers,reinjured my right foot and ankle up scared my legs up my hipps it was so bad i had to go to the hospital in an albumlance blood everywhere. I had wrote an letter to the cheif of police and no responses and i wrote an letter to the interalaffaires no response,i wrote an letter to the F.B.I and they went to talk to the officer and the cheif and they told the F.B.I agent that i was interfereing with police officer work and resisting arrest. And four months later in novermber of 2012 i had an warrent the officer had falsely. arrested me,put an malsouly crime on me ,and had beaten me,it cost me 630.00 for the bailbondsman then $3500.00 for an crimnal attorney. I was proven to be NOT GUILTY of the crime on June28,2012 the papers was filed with the Grayson County in Sherman Tx. On July 28,2013 im hurtting everday i had to go to the hospital last week because of my lower back and right ankle and right leg was hurtting because of officer doughlas i have legal document to so proof that what im saying is nothing but the

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