Monday, December 7, 2009

Increased NYPD Misconduct Proves Costly

We learned last week that the police department in NYC has faced an enormous increase in law suits against it and a similar increase in payouts to their victims as well as an accusation by a federal judge that the NYPD has engaged in a pattern of promoting false accusations and perjury to harm ordinary New Yorkers.

Cost of Police Misconduct

The New York Times reported last week that the payouts in settlements related to police activity in New York City had increased every year of the eight-year Bloomberg reign in City Hall, and that payouts had nearly doubled in the last five years to almost $120mm per year. During that same time frame, the number of lawsuits filed each year against New York City based on police misconduct has increased by more than 20%

The increase should not be a surprise for a number of reasons.

First, in 2008, the payouts related to police misconduct increased by 40% over the previous year.

As we have discussed here on numerous occasions at Manhattan Viewpoint, the NYPD is setting records for stopping and frisking innocent New Yorkers and is stopping and frisking New Yorkers of color at rates that cry out of federal oversight, punitive damages, and attempts at redemption. Instead, the race-based stop-and-frisk policies of the NYPD have continued on and been led by an unapologetic Mayor, who successfully sought a third term as Mayor while setting the record for stopping and frisking innocent New Yorkers.

In 2006, 55 percent of the stops were of Black people – more than double the Black population percentage.
Cops found guns, drugs, or stolen property on whites about twice as often as they did on black suspects.
Stops of whites amounted to only 2.6 percent of the white population. By contrast, stops of Blacks, represented 21.1 percent of the entire black population.
Residents of Brownsville's 73rd Precinct and Harlem's 28th Precinct had a 30 to 36 percent chance of being stopped and questioned by police in 2006. Citywide, the average was about 6 percent.

In 2009, as our city sets a new record for stop-and-frisk activity, this set of ugly statistics grows worse and becomes a clearer example of race-based policing that works against justice while promoting resentment of the NYPD amongst New Yorkers and promoting a culture of "White Privilege Promotion" within the NYPD as being white lowers ones chances of being stopped by 90% despite the fact that being white makes one twice as likely to be carrying guns, drugs, or stolen property.

NYPD Pattern of Falsehoods

A federal judge in Brooklyn has set a precedent by embracing the idea that the NYPD has a practice of falsely accusing innocent New Yorkers of criminal activity as well as promoting other falsehoods to support the false accusations against our fellow residents.

Federal Judge Jack Weinstein said that the NYPD had demonstrated a pattern of "widespread falsification by arresting officers." He also called the lack of truthfulness within the NYPD was an institutional problem. He said, "there is some evidence of an attitude among officers that is sufficiently widespread to constitute a custom or policy by the city approving illegal conduct."

In light of this view from the federal bench, none of us should be surprised that lawsuits and settlement amounts related to police misconduct have been increasing.

Now, Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD have an obligation to make aggressive and sweeping changes in their approach to New York City residents while weeding out the NYPD's growing tendency to use false allegations and other misconduct in carrying out its activities.


  1. With the ultimate goal of ensuring every person of color in the city has a record (fingerprints, photo, etc) on file, the nypd has a policy of stopping black and latino men, women and even children.