Law enforcement officers violating an individual’s civil rights harm not only the detainee but also New York City residents. As reported by CNBC, cities and municipalities across the nation settle misconduct complaints totaling hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
Whether alleging an unlawful arrest or use of excessive force, the funds used to provide relief come from taxpayers. According to a Times Square billboard, New Yorkers paid $300 million to settle complaints.
Police misconduct complaints compiled in 300K+ database
As reported by The New York Post, Big Apple residents have lodged at least 320,000 unique misconduct complaints against active-duty officers since the 1980s. According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, approximately 82,000 former and active officers faced allegations of misconduct. The civil rights organization has made the records available in a searchable complaint database.
Without a complaint, the public may not become aware of an incident, and an officer may continue to violate individuals’ civil rights. For improvements to come about, public officials may need to face greater accountability for allowing police officers to engage in wrongful actions.
Officials may settle complaints rather than discipline officers
A 22-year-old New York City resident filed a lawsuit seeking damages over officers taking her into custody while pregnant. As reported by PIX11, one day after officers placed her in a holding cell she went into labor and gave birth at a hospital while shackled to a gurney. City officials reached a settlement of $750,000 and dismissed the misdemeanor charges filed against her.
An individual harmed by police officers has a right to file a legal action, which may serve as a means of relief, justice and holding public officials accountable.