Nearly five dozen New York City police officers have been sued more than 10 times in the past decade, ranging from allegations of false arrest to pets getting shot during police raids.
The review published by the Daily News on Sunday said the suits against the 55 officers has more than doubled over the last decade to a high of 9,570 in 2012. It is unclear how many of those suits were settled, thrown out or adjudicated in favor of the plaintiff.
Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives Endowment Association, notes that the claims do not indicate wrongdoing. He says they could be a result of an officer being more active and therefore more likely to be sued and complained that the city has been quick to settle cases, a practice he said creates incentive for plaintiffs to make claims for easy money.
Last September, then-Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly established a civil lawsuit monitoring program, as well as a separate risk-assessment unit.
Police officials looked at the number of lawsuits filed against an officer, their nature and an officer’s specific role in an incident. NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis said that such an approach allows the department to differentiate between an officer doing his job properly and an officer with a potential problem.
The risk-assessment unit looks at patterns and trends in the lawsuits that could warrant further review.
Current Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, is “taking a hard look” at ways to improve both the monitoring program and the risk-assessment unit, according to Davis.
During his mayoral campaign last fall, de Blasio also called for better scrutiny of suits against police.
As commissioner of the Los Angeles Police Department from 2002 to 2009, Bratton started a program to assess lawsuits that allowed the department to target problem crews for additional training. In 2001, the LAPD was sued 828 times, and the city paid out $58 million, according to the News. In 2012, the department was sued 223 times, and paid out $20 million in settlements.