New York City taxpayers spent a whopping $230 million to pay off 6,472 lawsuits settled against the NYPD in the last fiscal year, according to an annual report released Monday by Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office.
The amount reflects settlements made from July 2017 through June 2018, and marks a 32% decrease from the prior year, when the city paid out $335 million for lawsuits against the police department.
Roughly $108 million was related to allegations of police misconduct like false arrests and excessive force, more than doubling the $48 million paid out for such issues a decade ago.
The total number of police misconduct claims filed last year increased from 2017, despite the fact that the total number of settlements issued in cases against the department declined.
Stringer’s report noted that a handful of claims inflated the total cost of last year’s settlements — five wrongful conviction cases accounted for roughly 14%, or $33 million, of the NYPD payouts.
Police spokeswoman Sgt. Jessica McRorie said the reduction in claims shows the department’s ability to fight frivolous cases and provide top-of-the-line training to its officers.
“These gains represent another example of how the NYPD is building greater trust and respect with the community to collaboratively solve problems, drive down crime, and enhance public safety,” McRorie said.
Critics say the numbers in the report are not indicative of a reformed police department.
“This is just another spin effort by the comptroller and the Law Department,” said civil rights lawyer Joel Berger. “The trend over the past 10 years tells you there’s a lot of dissatisfaction out there, and not everyone harmed by the police files a lawsuit. Plenty of people decide they don’t want to go through the hassle.”
Berger pointed out that 44% of the claims against the city resolved by settlements of judgement in 2018 were against the NYPD, and took issue with the police department and unions claiming that many of the cases against the NYPD were frivolous.