Lawsuits against the NYPD rose to a record 2,004 cases in the year that ended July 1 – a 28 percent increase over the last fiscal year, according to The New York World.
The recently released Mayor’s Management Report (PDF) shows that cases against the NYPD have seen a 63 percent rise over the last decade, and are not slowing.
In the most recent five years documented by the New York City Comptroller’s office, civil rights claims brought against the NYPD were up 70 percent, from around 1,500 in 2006 to more than 2,600 in 2010, with the cost of the 2010 claims totaling about $78 million.
The office says that in 2010, the NYPD was the city agency with the most tort claims – more than 8,100 – surpassing the Department of Transportation and the Health and Hospitals Corporation, and accounting for $135.8 million of the city’s total expenditures for judgments and settlements.
“All of us have noticed a huge increase in lawsuits against police,” Joel Berger, a civil rights attorney, told the web site. “Whether it’s stop and frisk, marijuana arrests, trespassing – this stuff is completely out of control.”
During May’s budget hearings, City Council members raised concerns about the toll of NYPD judgments and claims on the city’s budget. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly agreed that some of the claims may be based off of stop-and-frisk police questioning tactics, but was firm in his belief that the effects outweigh the risk.
Berger told the World that New York should be following the example of cities like Los Angeles and Chicago, which track litigation data and use it to identify problem officers and issues.
“It is absolutely absurd to respond to an increase in lawsuits by simply hiring more lawyers and defending to the hilt,” he told the web site. “That is such poor public policy. What they should be doing is asking themselves, ‘Why?’”