NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced last week a panel of former prosecutors will be analyzing the collection of crime statistics in the midst of accusations that the force has manipulated numbers for their benefit. Commissioner Kelly hopes the panel will be able to restore integrity to the department’s internal crime-reporting system, according to the NY Times.
Called the Crime Reporting Review Committee, the panel will consist of three former federal prosecutors who will be given broad access to records and people, reviewing how the numbers are collected, how they are recorded, and how the NYPD audits their own crime numbers.
Over the past year there have been several stories surface about the manipulation of numbers within the department. From setting goals for the number of arrests officers should get in a given week to suggesting they not file reports on all citizen complaints, there seemed to be accusations of manipulation in many forms.
However, a spokesperson for the Department suggests the Commissioner developed the panel to refute the accusations, stating “there’s been a lot of false, or unfair accusations” against them this year. Just how unbiased this review will be then, remains to be seen.
If the Commissioner truly hopes the panel finds evidence that their data collection and auditing practices are legitimate, that may be exactly what we hear as the final findings. We’ve all heard that you typically find exactly what you’re looking for. Well, this is especially true when we’re talking about a body like the NYPD—if they say they are acting with integrity, they will disclose evidence to support this claim.
But Chairman of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee Peter F. Vallone Jr. states that he believes the numbers were being tailored to fit the needs of the department. He claims that he himself has spoken with numerous officers that back this assertion, though they are not willing to speak on the record. Vallone states he will withhold his own intended hearings until after the panel has released its findings.
So, why the big commotion when it comes to crime statistics? Well these numbers can not only set the public’s mind at ease when they reflect a drop in crime, they can funnel money into some jurisdictions more than others, they can support a public officials claims that their crime solving efforts are working, and lastly, their manipulation can only serve to further erode the distrust New Yorkers have for the city’s “finest”.