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If a NYPD police officer commits an act of misconduct so aggravated that the jury awards punitive damages, by law the punitive damages run against the officer personally rather than against the City. City of Newport v. Fact Concerts, 453 U.S. 247 (1981). However, it is by now well established that the NYC Law Department authorizes indemnification for punitive damages in all cases in which it represents the police officer. Officers who have behaved so badly that a jury awards punitive damages do not have to pay a penny out of their own pockets. The person who is supposed to be punished by punitive damages is not punished. The only people punished are the taxpayers who must foot the bill.

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