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    7 Dec 2014

    Claims against the NYPD cost the city $212 million in 2014 alone

    New York Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo, whose chokehold killed Eric Garner on Staten Island in July, has been sued by residents claiming various abuses in at least three separate cases.

    In one of those cases, Pantaleo is accused of falsely arresting and humiliating two men, who say Pantaleo searched them illegally, forced them to pull their pants and underwear down in public, squat and cough. 
    The City of New York settled that claim for $30,000 – $15,000 for each party involved.
    A grand jury earlier this week announced that it would not be indicting Pantaleo in Garner’s death, despite the outcry from community groups who say the NYPD has systematically targeted black and Hispanic men for harassment. 

    The payout amount in the earlier Pantaleo case is hardly unusual for New York City, where claims against members of New York’s finest have swelled by 31% over the past five years. In that time, the city has paid out nearlya half-billion dollars in claims. According to the New York City Comptroller’s Office, there were 9,500 claims filed against the police department in 2013, to the tune of $137 million. The total amount paid out in fiscal year 2014 has ballooned to $212 million.

    Claims against the police department accounted for 37% of the claims against the city by residents, the largest of any of the city’s major agencies, including health and human services, sanitation, transportation, and parks and recreation.

    City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said the mass of claims against the police department are driven by allegations of some sort of violence or abuse. And that the trove of data his office has collected may offer opportunities to minimize those often violent encounters.
    Stringer’s office in recent months launched what they call ClaimStat, similar to the police department’s CompStat program for tracking crime. But instead of gathering data about specific crimes and where they occur, ClaimStat identifies where the most claims against police originate. Stringer said he hopes the program will serve as “an early warning system” to help cut back on police behavior that leads to exorbitant claims and back end costs. 

    “We do not need to accept the premise that claims and settlements have to go up year after year,” Stringer told msnbc. “We don’t have to accept that violent confrontations between police and the community are an inevitable part of policing.”
    Stringer, who took office in January, said that he’s been working with police department leaders and highlighting how focusing on the issue of claims makes good fiscal and moral sense.
    “If you see claims, and we’ve seen this, coming from a certain precinct let’s go out there and see what’s going on,” he said. “Let’s find out about the police officers or specific policing policy or make changes. We want this to be an early warning system.”
    Under controversial current and former NYPD policies, the costs of claims has skyrocketed. “Stop-and-frisk,” a hallmark of the Bloomberg administration, focused police manpower at randomly stopping mostly black and brown young men. A federal judge later deemed that practice violated the constitutional rights of those it targeted and ordered major changes to the policy. Mayor Bill de Blasio campaigned and won office largely on his rebuke of stop-and-frisk. But de Blasio has championed another controversial policy, “broken windows,” which calls for police to aggressively attack low-level and misdemeanor offenses.

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