Copping a Plea: Police in NJ File Hundreds of Lawsuits Against One Another

Sally Herships | June 18, 2014 | More Issues
Taxpayers picked up tab for legal bills totaling nearly $30 million over four-year span

Port Authority police
A female cop in the Camden Police Department wins a long-sought promotion to the rank of captain. On her first day, she finds crack cocaine tucked into the door pocket of her assigned unmarked car.

Capt. Cassandra Smith suspects the drugs were planted by a colleague who is unhappy with her promotion. After a series of similar incidents, she sues for discrimination.

The Camden case is just one of hundreds in New Jersey in which police officers have sued their department or fellow cops. Between 2009 and 2012, the public paid over $49 million in legal fees, settlements and other costs relating to lawsuits involving the police in New Jersey. About $19.5 million went to cases where civilians sued — but taxpayers spent $29 million on lawsuits brought by police.

Sally Herships of WNYC/NJPR, a partner of NJ Spotlight, looks at the phenomenon of lawsuits in which the defendants and plaintiffs are all cops. Listen to and read her report.