From a report on an Associated Press investigation:
“Nearly $1 billion has been paid over the past decade to resolve claims against the nation’s largest police department [the NYPD], according to an investigation by The Associated Press. The total spending outstrips that of other U.S. cities, though some smaller cities and departments also shell out tens of millions of dollars a year in payouts.
Taxpayers foot the bill — New York officials say the payments cost less than insurance would, and officers themselves don’t usually bear personal responsibility.
Chicago’s police force, the nation’s second-biggest, averaged about $2,930 in payouts per officer over the past six years. That tops New York’s roughly $2,700-a-year average from the 1999 to 2008 fiscal years, the most recent available. Chicago’s figures include a nearly $21 million settlement-and-interest payment in 2008 to a driver paralyzed when police slammed into his car while chasing someone else.
In Los Angeles, with less than half New York’s population, the average was about $2,200 in payouts per officer in the past seven fiscal years. That includes a nearly $13 million settlement last year with about 300 participants in a pro-immigration rally where police fired rubber bullets and pummeled demonstrators with batons.
Philadelphia, with less than a fifth of New York’s population, spent about one-tenth as much as New York in payouts, averaging $9.2 million a year from 2005 to 2009.
New York’s data don’t detail the nature of the police cases. But research into just some of the biggest payouts shows car accidents alone cost more than $30 million in those 10 years. Some multimillion-dollar settlements have gone to officers themselves for on-the-job injuries.
More than $23 million was spent to compensate for police bullets or brutality, millions more to settle claims of unjustified arrests and wrongful convictions.
Most departments don’t do much, if anything, with information from lawsuits; to them, if no wrongdoing is admitted, why bother tracking the cases?” (emphasis added).