Measuring misconduct

It’s always been difficult to measure the amount of police misconduct, such as corruption, excessive force, and other abuses of authority, for obvious reasons. This makes it hard to specify the size of the problem, hard to know whether it is getter better or worse, and hard to compare one police agency to another. This article out of Denver uses a novel metric, the amount of money paid out per officer to settle lawsuits. In a limited comparison, the article claims that Chicago pays out $2,930 per officer per year, New York pays out $2,700, Los Angeles $2,200, Philadelphia $1,360, and Denver $697. It would be interesting to know how stable these kinds of data are from year to year — certainly they would be rather unstable for smaller agencies, necessitating the use of multi-year averages.

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