Report: Police misconduct costing Baltimore millions

Life is about more than money, but that motto is less difficult to stand behind in a time when money is scarce among families and entire city and state governments. Every dollar that is spent needs to be spent wisely, and a reported trend related to Baltimore and its police department begs that the community challenge the status quo within the Baltimore Police Department.

The Baltimore Sun reports that in the past three years, more than $10 million of the city’s money has been spent to handle lawsuits filed against various local police officers. Not only does this have economic implications for the community, but it also says something about the criminal law process, when inmates are supposedly becoming assault victims at the hands of law enforcement officials.

The following are some numbers related to the controversy surrounding local officers and lawsuits they’ve faced in the past three years:

  • $10.4 million has gone into defending Baltimore Police Department against lawsuits
  • More than 60 percent of the lawsuits include allegations of officers using excessive force
  • This year, through June, $3.5 million of the city’s money went toward defending/settling lawsuits against the BPD
  • Last year, that expense was $3.7 million; in 2009, that expense was $3.2 million
  • The BPD is more often depending on private defense, which is more expensive, costing an estimated $700,000 last year

As you can see, these costs are significant. Officials speaking out about this alarming trend highlight the fact that these millions of dollars could be used for more positive community purposes if they weren’t being directed toward defending the BPD.

This isn’t to say that someone charged with a crime doesn’t deserve a legal defense, but shouldn’t the community be concerned that officers might be consistently abusing their positions by using violence against criminal suspects? Neither an arrest nor a criminal conviction means that a person loses his right to safety.


The Baltimore Sun: “Millions spent on police brutality lawsuits scrutinized,” Luke Broadwater and Scott Calvert, Nov. 15, 2011

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