Police misconduct has cost Milwaukee taxpayers at least $17.5 million in legal settlements since 2015. The price of misconduct has come under scrutiny as officials face a daunting budget and consider closing six fire stations and cutting jobs in the police and fire departments.
Police misconduct has cost Milwaukee taxpayers at least $17.5 million in legal settlements since 2015, forcing the city to borrow money to make the payouts amid an ever-tightening budget, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That amount jumps to at least $21.4 million when interest paid on the borrowing and fees paid to outside attorneys are factored in. In some cases, the costs pile up as the city continues to fight for months or years, even after officers have been fired or criminally convicted in the same misconduct. The costs far outstrip the $1.2 million the city sets aside each year for settling all of the claims it faces.
They likely will keep rising. The price of police misconduct has come under scrutiny as officials face a daunting budget and consider closing six fire stations and cutting jobs in the police and fire departments. Common Council members have pressed police officials and the city attorney’s office on what more could be done to ward off lawsuits. “Better training, better screening of applicants, all kinds of factors that could enter into the picture,” said Alderman Robert Bauman. “But clearly, for acts that have already occurred, we’re on the hook. Just have the police stop violating civil rights, and we’d have plenty of money for fire houses.” City Attorney Grant Langley’s office has recommended paying $2 million to settle a wrongful imprisonment suit. The city has two other high-profile cases looming: one related to the 2011 in-custody death of Derek Williams and a class-action suit from the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin accusing the department of illegal stop-and-frisk practices and racial profiling.