Rekia Boyd, shot and killed by Chicago Officer Dante Servin
With 49 elementary schools closing this summer
, with pensions being slashed, and with public services being cut all over Chicago, the city now admits it has paid out over $521 million
in settlements and legal fees due to police violence, misconduct ,and abuse over the past 10 years alone—with a whopping 500 cases still pending.
What's more, criminal justice experts say new lawsuits will surely keep filling the pipeline until the city addresses a so-called "code of silence" – where officers refuse to tell on each other for misbehavior – and a flawed disciplinary system that together allow misconduct to prosper.
In all, the BGA found a total of $521.3 million has been spent to handle police misconduct-related lawsuits from 2004 to present day.
The true cost, though, is even higher, as the BGA counted settlements and judgments, legal bills and other fees – but not less tangible expenses related to, say, insurance premiums, in-house lawyers and investigators, and the cost of incarcerating innocents.
In the government-sponsored study to track the outrageous costs of police brutality in Chicago, the following examples of what could have and should have been done with half a billion dollars in the city were given:
Could build five high schools like the state-of-the-art building the city recently developed in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. The 212,000-square-foot school has space for 1,200 students and includes five computer labs, six science labs, a gymnasium and an indoor swimming pool.
Could pay for the repaving of 500 miles of arterial streets, based on a city spokesman's estimate of it costing $1 million per road mile.
Could cover the cost of building 33 libraries like the one scheduled to open this summer in the Albany Park neighborhood. The 16,300-square-foot building includes a landscaped reading garden and 38 public computer terminals.
Yet, instead of any of those of wonderful things, the Chicago Police Department and the city's broken criminal justice system leaves an ugly trail of ruined lives and paid settlements instead.
Maybe, just maybe, if America understood the true cost of police brutality it would take this issue more seriously.