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Congress Asked to Require Police Reporting of Misconduct Payments

Two members of Congress and Washington, D.C.;s Office of Police Complaints have renewed their calls or police departments to make public details about police officers whose alleged misconduct resulted in multiple payments for claims including wrongful arrests and excessive force, reports the Washington Post. Virginia Democrats Sen. Tim Kaine and Rep. Don Beyer urged members of Congress to pass their 2021 bill, the Cost of Police Misconduct Act. It would require federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to report police misconduct allegations and related judgments or settlements, including court fees, to the Justice Department. The goal is to increase transparency and accountability, saving taxpayer dollars and potentially lives.

The renewed push for transparency followed a Washington Post investigation finding that 25 of the largest police and sheriff’s departments spent more than $3.2 billion to resolve claims of police misconduct over the past 10 years. The investigation showed that more than $1.5 billion was spent to settle claims against officers who had been named in more than one paid claim. Those payments and the officers are rarely tracked by police departments or city officials who approve such taxpayer-financed settlements. The law would require such payments involving police officers to be recorded and made public at all levels of government. “Police misconduct causes significant harm and puts lives at risk, but settlements for misconduct are often shrouded in secrecy,” Kaine said. “Law enforcement agencies often settle misconduct claims out of the public eye, burying controversies and making full accountability impossible.”


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