The Daily News article “Lawsuit City,” by Tina Moore, begins:
The number of lawsuits against the NYPD jumped by 10% in the 2011 fiscal year, with cases involving alleged misconduct leading the way, a new report revealed.
The piece goes on to say:
In all, the city paid out $550.4 million in personal injury and property damage settlements and judgments in fiscal 2011.
That figure…breaks down to $70 per resident to cover the total cost…
And even further in the piece:
The most frequent type of personal injury claims…were for police actions. The cases result from alleged improper police conduct, such as false arrest of imprisonment, the shooting of a suspect, excessive force or assault, or failure to provide protection, the report states.
We citizens’ relationship with NYPD is complex, isn’t it? We respect them for what they do for us, we need them, need their protection and response when we’re in crisis. And yet we often condemn them for what they do.
If a citizen’s relationship with the police is not an entirely happy one, I think a policeman’s lot is not an entirely happy one, either. I also think that not everyone has the personality, the psychological make-up to be a cop. The job itself is packed with conflicts: keeping the peace, protecting innocents, defending the City and its citizens — heroic stuff — but being endlessly vigilant and suspicious, paranoid really.
As John McCarthy, a Bloomberg spokesman, said in the article:
“Police officers make more than 23 million contacts with the public each year and cope with incredibly difficult situations on a daily basis.”
They investigate crimes only after they happen, after the crimes destroy people’s lives. They get raked for not preventing catastrophes they could not know were going to happen. And they get raked, properly, for making erroneous decisions, without any evidence, about citizens they judge to be dangerous.
And these heroes, these objects of admiration, salvation fantasies, and also despair and castigation, carry deadly weapons. I’ve often felt that one great attraction to becoming a cop is that weapon, is the violence packed in that gun.
A complicated job, but it’s costing us far too much money and money spent not on the job itself, but in settling claims against the job.