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Resource ID: #27002
Subject: Police
Source: WNYC
Affiliation: 
Date: June 17, 2014; June 20, 2014

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Who sues police departments the most? Police officers. In New Jersey, millions of dollars are spent each year on legal fees and settlements for lawsuits involving police. And, while you might imagine that a small handful of bad-apple cops are behind the cases, when you start digging through the legal paperwork a strange pattern begins to emerge. While there are lots of cases where civilians sue the police, there are more lawsuits where police are the plaintiffs. Police officers are suing each other, police departments and the towns and cities they work in -- cops accusing cops of harassment, retaliation and discrimination. Between 2009 and 2012, taxpayers in New Jersey footed the bill for over $49 million in legal fees, settlements and other costs relating to lawsuits involving the police. About $19.5 million went to cases where civilians sued — and $29 million on lawsuits brought by police. But ask government officials at any level throughout the state, and you'll find no oversight of these cases or even awareness that there's a problem. The costs don't come out of police budgets so departments have little incentive to intervene and because the bills are often paid directly by insurance carriers, even the municipalities that pay the premiums aren't paying attention. No one in the government is tracking the costs and in the meantime the bills continue to add up. And it's not just the costs, experts says the cases should be tracked so that the data could be used as an early warning system to identify problem officers, but instead the data is being systematically ignored.

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