How Much Do Taxpayers Pay For Police Misconduct?


Police brutality and misconduct lawsuits are a point of growing contention for many involved in the political arena.

Obviously, victims of police abuse deserve to be compensated for their damages. The problem is that it isn’t the police departments or the at-fault officers themselves that are monetarily held accountable in a misconduct lawsuit. It is the hard working taxpayers of a certain geographic area.

In a recent open-source effort launched by, independent researchers are looking at data on police lawsuit payouts dating back to 2009. Among the types of lawsuits analyzed include wrongful-shooting deaths, excessive force complaints, illegal searches etc.

Early findings show that during the last five years a combined $16.6 million was spent by taxpayers in just four cities alone to settle 122 police-misconduct lawsuits. Those cities are: Indianapolis, Austin, San Jose, and San Francisco.

During that same time, taxpayers of just one city were expropriated for more than twice that. The people of Philadelphia paid $40 million to settle 584 of the 1,223 police-misconduct lawsuits filed against its department since January 2009, the website reported. Philadelphia has 1.5 million residents.

By comparison, taxpayers in the city of New York have had to shell out more than $428,000,000 since 2009 for wrongful arrest and civil rights settlements.

Baltimore, Maryland has spent $5.7 million on settlements and awards, and another $5.8 million in legal fees.

The Chicago Sun-Times says Chicago residents have payed out nearly half a billion dollars in settlements over the past decade, and spent $84.6 million in fees, settlements, and awards last year alone.

Bloomberg News reported that in 2011, Los Angeles paid out $54 million, though that figure includes negligence and other claims. Oakland Police Beat reported that their city has paid out $74 million to settle 417 lawsuits since 1990.

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