Misguided Citizen Demands Are out of Line
In a recent letter to a local newspaper, a reader suggested that the Fraternal Order of Police and retired Chicago police officers be forced to pay for financial settlements related to police wrongdoing (“Make cops share the high cost of police misconduct lawsuits” — Dec. 11).
Let me correct the reader’s misguided viewpoint.
The Police Department doesn’t hire; the city politicians direct the hiring of Chicago police officers. Therefore the Police Department has little responsibility for who is allowed to work for the citizens of Chicago.
Our city allows frivolous lawsuits to be filed and routinely settles them as “financially responsible,” instead of defending the officers against mindless allegations. Attorneys understand that if they file a suit, the city will offer them a small settlement in order to rid the city the higher cost of defending the suit in court.
The city needs to initiate a program to countersue individuals bringing frivolous lawsuits against the city. Every complaint should be accompanied with a sworn affidavit. This allows the city attorneys to focus on bona fide complaints and not spurious complaints dictated by arrestees’ defense attorneys attempting to garner sympathy. Go after the attorneys for fees and court costs. Years ago, the majority of attorneys filing civil suits against the city of Chicago once were employed by the city of Chicago
Wake these judges up. Often, judges award abusive settlements as a way of punishing the city. They and you don’t realize these enormous sums of money are taxes. Every time a sympathetic judge orders a huge payout, he indirectly injures millions of city taxpayers. He also takes needed revenue from those who rely on it the most and allots it to his/her fellow attorneys bringing suit.
Finally, forcing retired and other officers to pay settlements they are not involved in is certainly not the answer. We don’t force all doctors to pay wrongful death suits involving a single doctor. We don’t force all car dealerships to pay for the wrongdoings of the corrupt dealer that sets back the odometer on a car he sells. We don’t force all stores that sell ladders to pay for the one unscrupulous box store that sells a defective ladder.
Focus on individuals and use the corrective measures in place.
To all my brothers and sisters in blue, lock and load and protect each other. And as always, stay safe.
Larry Casey, sergeant (ret.), Chicago Police Department, Criminal Justice Professor, Wilbur Wright College. View his website at www.StoriesofaChicagoPoliceOfficer.com for more information and review his book by the same name.