The increasing militarization of police has had profound social ramifications across the United States, as citizens increasingly feel threatened by those sworn to protect them. Beyond the social fallout, a recent Associated Press investigation skims the surface of the financial impact of police excesses over the previous decade.
In typical Associated Press misdirection, a video accompanies the article, which literally has nothing to do with what is written around it. The original title of the article is ambiguous, “AP Investigation: Nearly $1B in NYC Police Payouts.” If one were only to watch the video, one would assume that the $1B somehow has been paid out in counterterrorism operations, as the video focuses on a “dirty bomb” patrol boat protecting the UN building. Strange. However, the article itself does possess a few kernels of truth.
According to the AP investigation into the NYPD:
Nearly $1 billion has been paid over the past decade to resolve claims against the nation’s largest police department . . . the total spending outstrips that of other U.S. cities, though some smaller cities and departments also shell out tens of millions of dollars a year in payouts.
These payouts often are due to provable wrongdoing by individuals, yet ultimately fall on the taxpayer according to the report, as “officers themselves don’t usually bear personal responsibility.” It is precisely this lack of personal responsibility which contributes to the overall impact on society. There are countless examples of police who have been repeatedly cited for brutality and other ethics violations being protected by the “thin blue line” of the supposed police honor code that too often protects their fraternity above protecting the public.