Spending on misconduct settlements by Boston police above average

WBZ reports that in recent years, the Boston Police Department has paid out more money in legal settlements for police misconduct than departments in other cities with similarly-sized populations. According to WBZ, there have been...

... more than two dozen police misconduct cases settled by the city over the last four years, at a cost of $5.6 million to taxpayers.

The I-Team’s investigation found that figure for Boston tops a list of settlement money paid by other cities with equal or larger populations: Seattle, Washington; Columbus, Ohio; Denver, Colorado; San Francisco, California; and El Paso, Texas.

Boston’s settlement numbers do not include a $3 million payout to the family of David Woodman, a college student who died in Boston police custody in 2008 on the night the Celtics clinched the NBA championship.

This above average spending on legal settlements is likely tied to the department's failure to adequately address allegations of misconduct against its officers. Earlier this year, Boston magazine reported that "Boston police often take more than a year to close [complaints], far longer than the 90 to 180 days many experts consider acceptable. When the complaint involves a particularly serious allegation, like unnecessary use of force, the cases routinely drag on long past two years... Between 2007 and 2012, nearly 700 formal complaints filed against Boston police officers went unresolved."

Shaun Joseph, who was wrongfully arrested during a protest in 2013, finally decided to just file a lawsuit against the department earlier this month after his complaint was ignored for more than a year despite being backed up by video evidence.

When Boston police are punished by the department for misconduct, the punishment is often light, such as the four month suspension given earlier this year to a sergeant who was accused of asking a woman for sex during a traffic stop and following her home when she rebuffed him. That sergeant was allowed to continue working while Internal Affairs investigated the complaint.

Bonus link: The Massachusetts State Police don't seem to do a great job holding their officers accountable either.