John W. Whitehead: The High Cost Of Living In The Police State

In a recent Huff Post article, John W. Whitehead asks: who pays the price of the police shootings and SWAT team raids?

He states:  “I’m not just talking about the price that must be paid in hard-earned dollars, whether by taxpayers or the victims, in attempting to restore what was vandalized and broken by police. It’s also the things that can’t be so easily calculated to a decimal point: the broken bones that will never quite heal right, the children’s nightmares, the broken family heirlooms, the loss of faith in a system that was supposed to serve and protect you, the grief for loved ones whose lives were cut short.”

The article then goes on to claim that Baltimore taxpayers have paid roughly $5.7 million since 2011 over lawsuits stemming from police abuses, with an additional $5.8 million going towards legal fees. That’s money that could have been spent on a state-of-the-art recreation center or renovations at more than 30 playgrounds.

“New York taxpayers have shelled out almost $1,130 per year per police officer (there are 34,500 officers in the NYPD) to address charges of misconduct. That translates to $38 million every year just to clean up after these so-called public servants. Over a 10-year-period, Oakland, Calif., taxpayers were made to cough up more than $57 million in order to settle accounts with alleged victims of police abuse,” the article states.

John W. Whitehead

Chicago taxpayers were asked to pay out nearly $33 million on one day to victims of police misconduct, and one person is supposed to receive $22.5 million – potentially the largest single amount settled on any one victim.  Chicago has paid more than half a billion dollars to victims over the course of a decade. The Chicago City Council actually had to borrow $100 million just to pay off lawsuits arising over police misconduct in 2013.

The article further states:  “Indeed, 99.8 percent of the monies paid in settlements and judgements in police misconduct cases never come out of the officers’ own pockets. Moreover, these officers rarely ever have to pay for their own legal defense. As law professor Joanna C. Schwartz notes, police officers are more likely to be struck by lightning than be made financially liable for their actions.”

The article references a case in which three Denver police officers beat a 16-year-old boy, stomping “on the boy’s back while using a fence for leverage, breaking his ribs and causing him to suffer kidney damage and a lacerated liver.” The cost to Denver taxpayers to settle the lawsuit was $885,000.  The amount the officers contributed: 0.

A 92-year-old was mistakenly shot and killed during a SWAT raid in Atlanta. Attempting to cover their backs, the officers planted marijuana in the house and falsely claimed her home was the site of a cocaine sale. The cost to Atlanta taxpayers to settle the lawsuit: $4.9 million. The amount the officers contributed: 0.

In Albuquerque, a policeman was convicted of raping a woman in his police car, in addition to sexually assaulting four other women and girls. The cost to the Albuquerque taxpayers to settle the lawsuit: $1,000,000. The amount the officer contributed: 0.

The situation becomes clear:  A police state is very expensive.

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