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Investigation Looks at Financial Impact of Police Abuse

Chicago frequently spends more money on police misconduct settlements than it budgets for, causing the city to pursue costly borrowing plans that put taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions more dollars.

Those are just some of the major findings in a new investigation by the Chicago Reporter that analyzed 655 police misconduct lawsuits from 2012 to 2015 that ended with a settlement. The Chicago Reporter also writes that no one at City Hall or at the police department comprehensively analyzes these settlements to look for patterns and recommend policy changes like other major cities, such as New York City and Philadelphia.

Since 2012, the city has paid more than $260 million on police settlements and attorneys’ fees, according to the Reporter. The city usually sets aside only $20 million for such settlements each year, causing city officials to siphon money from other funds or borrow money. 

In 2014, the city borrowed $198 million to help cover settlements and judgments for two years, according to the Reporter. Since the city has such an abysmal credit rating, it will pay an additional $335 million in interest payments by the time the bond matures in 2044.

“That means even if the city found a way to eliminate police misconduct tomorrow, Chicagoans would still be paying hundreds of millions of dollars for police abuse for generations to come,” the Reporter writes.

Host Carol Marin talks with Chicago Reporter editor and publisher Susan Smith Richardson and Chicago Reporter data journalist Jonah Newman about their report and what it says about how the city holds police accountable. 

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