March 16, 2012 10:21AM

Are New York City Crime Stats a Sham?

The Village Voice is reporting that the New York City Police Department has confirmed the allegations of a police whistleblower that at least one precinct, perhaps more, has manipulated crime statistics in a way that makes it appear that crime is down in the city, which makes police commanders and the mayor appear good to both journalists and the electorate.  Here's an excerpt:

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.

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.

In the wake of our series [reporting Schoolcraft's allegations], 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.

Read the whole thing.  So, in sum, crime is worse than advertised because the government rigged the stats while also abusing an honest cop who was apparently horrified by the falsifications.   One wonders if the scandal of statistical manipulation is present at other departments around the country.

Fans of the acclaimed HBO program, The Wire, may recall the season where the Mayor responds to his city's  crime problem by leaning on the police chief, who then, in turn,  leans on his district commanders in such a way that the crime stats will show a decline, whatever the facts may be.  That storyline no longer seems fanciful.

Robert Farago makes the point that NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been an outspoken proponent of more gun control--and to make that case, he needs to assure people that they are protected by the police-- so forget about all that talk about crime and the need for armed self-defense.

Kudos to the police whistleblower and to the Voice for exposing this scandal.