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Common Council releases how much city of Milwaukee has paid in settlements

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee Common Council released how much the city has paid in settlements and lawsuits against the Milwaukee Police Department which are allegedly draining taxpayers millions of dollars.

The Judiciary and Legislation Committee asked for information about recent police-related lawsuit settlements. They found out that in the last two years the city has paid out nearly $20 million for wrongful conviction, illegal strip searches, and in-custody deaths

“Either the City needs to get insurance for these things so as not to use taxpayer dollars or make sure police officers are not doing the bad things that they've been accused of," said Jonathan Safran who has tried and settled almost all of these cases.

And Safran says the lawsuit is just the beginning not to mention legal fees, court fees when cases are delayed, administrative leave and benefits for the officers involved.

"This should be a significant concern that taxpayers in the city of Milwaukee should know about."

Milwaukee Alderman Robert Bauman says the money for these lawsuits isn't in the budget causing the city to get into more debt to pay them back

"We pay them off in a lump sum and then we issue bonds, which is basically borrowing, to raise the money to pay these lump sum settlements and those bonds are repaid over time. The debt service to repay those bonds every year is now up to about $2 million," said District 4 Alderman Robert Bauman.

And he believes it's costing more than just taxpayers.

"One way you could phrase it is we wouldn't have to be shutting down firehouses if police would stop violating the civil rights of our citizens."

The Milwaukee Police Department has not released a comment at this time. 

Stay with CBS 58 News for more information on this developing story. 

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