Police Beatings Are a Financial Drain on Baltimore City

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surveillance video of a violent Baltimore arrest
A Baltimore police officer assaulting a man on North Ave.

Well, here’s a novel way to look at police brutality. Besides being gross civil-rights violations, inordinately victimizing African-Americans, and increasing the mistrust of law enforcement, police beatings in Baltimore are also costing taxpayers some serious money!

An investigative piece in the Baltimore Sun looks at the dollars and cents of unduly violent police in the city. And it’s incredible! “Over the past four years,” according to the report, “more than 100 people have won court judgments or settlements related to allegations of brutality and civil rights violations.” These beatings frequently took place during questionable arrests. Nearly all the victims had their charges dropped or were never charged with anything to begin with.

But back to the money! Since January 2011, the Sun found, the city paid out $5.7 million to victims of police beatings. Add to that the $5.8 million the city spent on legal fees associated with defending against these claims, and you’ve got $11.5 million of taxpayer money that could have gone to something good if only our police officers could refrain from beating up “a 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette, and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson,” among others.

Another interesting fact. If you’re wondering why you don’t hear about police brutality more often, it’s probably because the settlements each include a clause that forbids the victim from talking to the news media about the incident. Which is disgusting in its own right. If we can’t appreciate the magnitude of the problem, how can we be expected to address it?

For more, read the article at the Baltimore Sun.

On the more practical side of things, local pastor Jamal-Harrison Bryant of the Empowerment Temple has organized an informational meeting this Tuesday to educate residents on how to handle interactions with the police.

UPDATE: City Council members react to the Sun‘s investigation by demanding federal oversight of the Baltimore Police Department. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake attempts to play down the severity of the city’s police brutality problem and her administration’s lack of transparency regarding the issue.


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