The Village Voice, one of the best newspapers in the country, has an article confirming an earlier investigation they had done about massive manipulation of crime statistics by the NYPD. In short, they pumped up the number of arrests of people committing minor crimes at most (and often no crimes at all) and simultaneously kept arrests for serious crimes at a minimum. It’s all based on a whistleblowing officer who recorded his superiors repeatedly telling officers to do both of those things.
For more than two years, Adrian Schoolcraft secretly recorded every roll call at the 81st Precinct in Brooklyn and captured his superiors urging police officers to do two things in order to manipulate the “stats” that the department is under pressure to produce: Officers were told to arrest people who were doing little more than standing on the street, but they were also encouraged to disregard actual victims of serious crimes who wanted to file reports.
Arresting bystanders made it look like the department was efficient, while artificially reducing the amount of serious crime made the commander look good.
And guess what the NYPD did in response to this?
In October 2009, Schoolcraft met with NYPD investigators for three hours and detailed more than a dozen cases of crime reports being manipulated in the district. Three weeks after that meeting—which was supposed to have been kept secret from Schoolcraft’s superiors—his precinct commander and a deputy chief ordered Schoolcraft to be dragged from his apartment and forced into the Jamaica Hospital psychiatric ward for six days.
But now the Voice has an internal police investigative report that confirmed all of Schoolcraft’s allegations:
In the wake of our series, NYPD commissioner Raymond Kelly ordered an investigation into Schoolcraft’s claims. By June 2010, that investigation produced a report that the department has tried to keep secret for nearly two years.
The Voice has obtained that 95-page report, and it shows that the NYPD confirmed Schoolcraft’s allegations. In other words, at the same time that police officials were attacking Schoolcraft’s credibility, refusing to pay him, and serving him with administrative charges, the NYPD was sitting on a document that thoroughly vindicated his claims.
Investigators went beyond Schoolcraft’s specific claims and found many other instances in the 81st Precinct where crime reports were missing, had been misclassified, altered, rejected, or not even entered into the computer system that tracks crime reports.
These weren’t minor incidents. The victims included a Chinese-food delivery man robbed and beaten bloody, a man robbed at gunpoint, a cab driver robbed at gunpoint, a woman assaulted and beaten black and blue, a woman beaten by her spouse, and a woman burgled by men who forced their way into her apartment.
“When viewed in their totality, a disturbing pattern is prevalent and gives credence to the allegation that crimes are being improperly reported in order to avoid index-crime classifications,” investigators concluded. “This trend is indicative of a concerted effort to deliberately underreport crime in the 81st Precinct.” …
The investigation found that crime complaints were changed to reflect misdemeanor rather than felony crimes, which prevented those incidents from being counted in the all-important crime statistics. In addition, the investigation concluded that “an unwillingness to prepare reports for index crimes exists or existed in the command.”
Moreover, a significant number of serious index crimes were not entered into the computer tracking system known as OmniForm. “This was more than administrative error,” the probe concluded.
There was an “atmosphere in the command where index crimes were scrutinized to the point where it became easier to either not take the report at all or to take a report for a lesser, non-index crime,” investigators concluded.
We’ve heard a lot of claims about how New York’s crime rate had gone down so far during the Giuliani administration because he had put all the focus on constantly stopping people and handling all the minor little crimes, which supposedly then sent this message to criminals that they would get caught and that subsequently made them less likely to do something wrong. But it appears that this may have far more to do with dishonest manipulation of the system than with actually preventing crime.