Money for Nothing

Friday, December 14, 2007

Each year New York City pays tens of millions of dollars to settle civil claims against the NYPD--but do those payouts change police practices? WNYC reporter Bob Hennelly talks about his investigation. Eugene O'Donnell, professor of law and police science at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and personal injury attorney Sanford Rubenstein share their experiences. And the commanding officer of the Los Angeles Police Department's risk management group, Stuart Maislin, discusses how that city makes connections between civil claims and police behavior.


Bob Hennelly, Stuart Maislin, Eugene O'Donnell and Sanford Rubenstein

Comments [12]

Sonia from Bronx, NY

I always wanted to know what week in the academy they teach obnoxiousness, because it appears to be institutional. The Police Dept must come to terms and deal with the fact that an alarming number of its "customers" hate them. That has a lot to do with people's inclination to sue.

Dec. 14 2007 01:04 PM
Hector from National Institute for Latino Policy (Bronx)

the communities of color in this city have been talking,as well as advocating for change on the issue of police use of unecesary or excessive force for a long time. And while the police department have made changes and improvements, the problem persists and is more widespread than the department wants to acknowledge. Indeed the police department denies it and, as with the show, rarely participates in openm discussion regarding the issue. Invariably intertwined with the issue of unecessary/excessive force, as with the stop and frisk,are the issues of bias, profiling and discrimination, which the department does not under most circumstances want to acknowledge, much less address in a transparent and forthright way.

That Commissioner Kelly could appear on the show (2 moinths ago?) and state without challenge that police-community relations (referring primarily to communities of color) are the best they have ever been is an indication of how out of touch, he and the department is about how Latino,Black and poor communities perceive and feel about the police, and even more so about the causes for those feelings and perceptions.

Dec. 14 2007 10:57 AM
Tom Brett from Westbury, NY

Brian said to check the web site for Mr. Henneley's report. Can't find it!!

I did check the "save" menu for the program and for a ?printout?, but don't know if it worked. How do I recover these saved items?

sorry to be such a bother.

good show.


Dec. 14 2007 10:53 AM
Janice Olson from Brooklyn

The same "no tolerance" policy --you know, focus on broken windows and jaywalking to reduce murder and robbery-- credited with reducing crime in NYC should be applied to law enforcers.

If we could create consequences for the petty abuses of power New Yorkers experience from cops and courts on a daily basis, we could reduce the "because I can" attitude on the force, reduce the bad officers and the unspeakable incidents that seem to be occurring with increasing frequency.

Dec. 14 2007 10:50 AM
eric from jersey city

basically in agreement with comment #5:

AFAIK NYC does not pay competive wages for cops teachers and has retention problems in both areas.

there is frequent discussion of holding workers in both areas to higher standards, but how do you increase the demands on someone who already has one foot out the door?

how can the city claim to have a budget surplus while this is the case?

Dec. 14 2007 10:46 AM
Robert from NYC

My personal experience with the police is that if they weren't police they'd be on the other side of the law, not the majority, I'm sure, but I've experienced more nasty cops than helpful ones, and I was the victim of a crime.

Dec. 14 2007 10:30 AM
Joe from Englewood, nj

The attorneys have been brilliant at creating an environment making it easy to sue the city to make their millions. Remember they often get 1/3 rd of lawsuit payouts.

Dec. 14 2007 10:28 AM
robert from park slope

If we continue to pay entry-level police officers $25,000 we will not be able to attract sufficient numbers of high caliber individuals necessary to man the force. Thus, problems such as these legal settlements will only worsen as the rank-and-file becomes increasingly susceptible to bad judgement and corruption.

Dec. 14 2007 10:24 AM
Leslie Gevirtz from Manhattan

Police abuse is systemic and historic in New York City. Back when Norm Siegel was at the NYCLU, in the late 80s, they reviewed the riots at Tompkins Square and found the police culpable. They also found the police review board to be a rubber stamp then. The only thing that has changed is that the injured and abused have discovered the courts as a remedy. The police department - under both of Mr. Kelly's terms and his predecessors and successors - Benjamin Ward, Bill Bratton - is just not interested in reigning in its brutality. And, I predict that even as the jury awards grow, they will continue to have no interest until it actually affects individual cop's employment. As long as the individuals are allowed to keep their jobs, despite the brutality, nothing will change.

Dec. 14 2007 10:24 AM
Leo from Queens

Can anyone tell us how much money has the NYC Taxpayer paid out as a result of civil rights and Human rights lawsuits filed as a result of the 2004 Republican Convention? Any monies paid by the taxpayer should be reimbursed by Mayor Bloomberg and Pataki as these arrests and first amendment violations had NOTHING to do with protection the conventioners or the NYC citizen. Those tactics were used for their own political advancement. As a result that money should come out of their pockets!

Dec. 14 2007 10:19 AM
Daniel from Brooklyn

What significance does the NYPD patrol guide have? It offers a lot of guidance about what officers should do, but when they fail to abide by it, do officers face any consequences?

For example, the patrol guide explicitly forbids firing at a moving vehicle unless something other than the vehicle is being used as a deadly weapon, but in the Sean Bell case police did exactly that.

Dec. 14 2007 10:17 AM
Anonymous from NYC

Simple solution: don't use or limit the amount of taxpayer dollars to pay out these settlements. No wonder they're so free with the money - it ain't comin' out of their pocket! Make the department pay personally and you'll see a big change in parctices.

That's excessive financial force.

Dec. 14 2007 10:16 AM

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