Claims against NYPD up during 2011 fiscal year

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Claims filed against New York’s finest spiked 35 percent in the last fiscal year, leading the city to shell out nearly $186 million in settlement costs, according to a report issued by Comptroller John Liu.

The NYPD was responsible for more claims during the 2011 fiscal year than any other city agency.

“The surge [in claims] against the NYPD is an alarm bell for the city,” Liu said. “The trend can and must be stemmed and reversed with better risk management including training, clearer accountability and the convening of a multi-disciplinary task force.”

The 114th Precinct in Astoria topped the list in Queens with 53 claims, the comptroller’s report showed, while the 113th Precinct in Jamaica had the highest number of crime complaints in the borough with 2,370.

But Councilmember Peter Vallone, chair of the Public Safety Committee, defended the NYPD. Vallone said claims against cops surge when the Corporation Counsel of the city’s Law Department settles too many “nuisance” cases regardless of merit.

“The Corporation Counsel settles everything, and they settle for reasons that have nothing to do with guilt or innocence,” he said. “When you settle cases when the police are not doing anything wrong, it’s going to lead to more and more cases and more tax money being wasted.”

Vallone said few cases involving false arrest and police brutality are justifiable, with the majority stemming from “sleazy” lawyers looking for a payout.

“Sometimes good cops are targeted by dirt bags, and then there are legitimate cases,” he said. “Drug dealers are making more money suing cops than selling drugs. It’s amazing. The only people who lose are the taxpayers.”

The city doled out over $550 million — a 5 percent jump from the year before — in total personal injury and property damage settlements in 2011, according to report findings.

Queens had the largest number of property damage claims in the city with 3,425 but the second lowest number of personal injury claims with 2,550.

Personal injury claims include medical malpractice, police action, civil rights violations, motor vehicle accidents and injuries that occur in schools or from defective sidewalks.

The NYPD did not immediately comment.