The city of Chicago paid more than $20 million in settlements for police-involved lawsuits in the first two months of the year, WBBM-TV reported Tuesday, and there could be millions of dollars more paid out in the near future.
What’s the story?
On Monday, the city paid $4.6 million to settle numerous police misconduct cases. On Feb. 9, the city paid $9.3 million in a reversed conviction case.
In 2016, Chicago paid $2.2 million for related cases in the first eight weeks of the year. In 2017, that number was $6.1 million; still nowhere near the $20.3 million that came out of the city’s budget in the first eight weeks of 2018.
Of that $20.3 million, about half of that money is for excessive force, false arrest and illegal search and seizure cases.
Also, there are currently 460 civil rights cases against the city that are under review, according to the Chicago Department of Law.
Need for reform?
Jon Loevy is a Chicago civil rights attorney who is involved in many of these cases. He said the city is essentially wasting money by settling all these cases and not addressing the issues that cause them.
“From an economic standpoint, dollars and cents, it would be cheaper to solve the problem than to keep paying out on lawsuits,” Loevy told WBBM. “We’ve heard rhetoric lately that it is time to make a change and time will tell if that’s going to happen.
“Our goal is that they put us out of business,” Loevy said.
An old problem
Last year, the Justice Department published a 164-page report following an investigation into misuse of force by Chicago officers.
From a Chicago Tribune editorial:
Here is what the Justice Department found in Chicago: The Police Department inadequately trains officers to fight crime in a violent city and then fails to properly monitor their use of force or punish wrongdoing. The result is ‘a culture in which officers expect to use force and not be questioned about the need for or propriety of that use.’ Boiled down to the essence, Chicago cops abuse citizens because nobody tells them they can’t.