In a list of police misconduct, such as extended detention, malicious prosecution, false arrest and excessive force, illegal search may be among one of the lighter offenses. But it’s still an expensive one.
The city paid more than $3 million in settlements for 51 illegal searches by repeaters – the 1 percent of the Chicago Police Department who have two or more misconduct lawsuits against them. The exact cost between January 2009 and November 2011: a whopping $3.3 million.
The 4th Amendment of the Constitution protects citizens from illegal searches, and a 1961 Supreme Court decision ruled that evidence found in an illegal search and seizure cannot be used in a case. But police departments in cities including New York and Chicago continue to deal with claims of illegal searches, often of minority communities.
Some of the illegal search settlements, like that of officer Anthony Hicks, were only a $3,000 payout by the city. Several other officers, however, cost Chicago taxpayers up to $224,000 in multiple settlements for illegal searches.
In the latest Chicago Reporter investigation, Angela Caputo looked at claims of misconduct against the so-called repeaters and some of the reasons that, despite the costs to defend them in a time of budget crisis, many remained on the police force with little more than a slap on the wrist.
Of the $11.7 million spent defending repeaters, 28 percent was spent defending illegal search lawsuits.