The city of Austin has paid almost $73 million over the past decade in costs associated with police brutality and misconduct lawsuits, as revealed in an external report made public in April.
Police Brutality Costs: A Comprehensive Breakdown
These police brutality-related costs include settlements, outside counsel fees, and staff labor expenses for working the cases. Moreover, the report, compiled by Kroll Associates, highlights immeasurable costs tied to “loss of community trust, damage to community perceptions of police legitimacy, and the value placed on human life and loss of a loved one.”
Recommendations to Combat Police Brutality
To tackle the issue of police brutality, researchers offered nine recommendations to the city. They ranged from updating training at the police academy, altering public interactions, and more.
Some of these suggestions included:
- Emphasizing critical thinking in high-stress situations.
- Building relationships with communities affected by police brutality.
- Focusing on de-escalation tactics.
These measures are aimed at preventing police misconduct and police brutality in Austin, encouraging a safer community environment.
The Need to Reduce Police Brutality Costs
Concerning police brutality costs, St. Edward’s University criminal justice professor Carsten Andresen believes that some settlements should come from the police budget. This action would serve as a consequence for police who perform poorly and motivate the department to address underlying issues related to police brutality.
“The City remains dedicated to continuous improvement and creating an environment that is safe for all,” the Police Department said, indicating planned investments to implement Kroll's recommendations against police brutality.
A Deeper Look at Police Brutality: Costs, Racial Demographics
The report delves into 112 cases from 2013 to 2022, reflecting a concerning pattern of police brutality. A breakdown shows:
- $26.1 million paid in settlements.
- $9.3 million in verdict costs.
- $3.5 million for outside counsel.
- 35% of those killed were Hispanic, 31% Black, indicating an overrepresentation among people of color.
These numbers reveal a startling fact: a person of color in Austin is more likely to die due to an interaction with the police involving alleged misconduct or police brutality.
The Current Status of Police Brutality Lawsuits
A third of all cases related to police brutality are still pending. Many lawsuits were dismissed without legal representation or due to qualified immunity.
Police Brutality and Misconduct: A National Concern
This issue is not confined to Austin alone. Across the country, large police departments have paid nearly $3.2 billion to settle police brutality claims in the past decade.
Recommendations to Reduce Police Brutality in Austin
Kroll's recommendations to prevent police brutality incidents in the future focus on constitutional policing, accountability, proper training, and community partnership.
Austin Police Department's Response to Police Brutality Concerns
The department is working to align with the recommendations, focusing on critical thinking, de-escalation tactics, and collaboration with local agencies. Efforts are underway to create systemic change and respond more appropriately to police brutality incidents.