What’s in a number? NYPD officers admit fudging crime stats

Two criminologists conducted a survey of some 1,962 retired NYPD police officers. What they found was that many, nearly half of recent retirees admitted to having “personal knowledge” of crime-report manipulation. According to the New York Times, this manipulation could include downgrading offenses or encouraging witnesses to not report crimes—all in an effort to make the crime statistics of the city seem lower than they actually are.

This isn’t the first time the NYPD has been accused of manipulating numbers in order to show increased enforcement at the same time as lower crime rates, and it will no doubt not be the last.

In the past, NYPD administrators have said any manipulation is the work of a few bad apples. But the survey results, report Dr. Eli Silverman professor emeritus at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, “debunks the Police Department’s rotten-apple theory.” He says “This really demonstrates a rotten barrel.”

Not everyone is convinced of the survey’s findings, however. Not surprisingly, the NYPD has already spoken out against them—saying, among other things, that the research methodology was questionable and the findings unreliable.

“The latest report from Eterno and Silverman appears designed to bolster the authors’ repeated but unsupported claims,” said Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesperson for the department. “The document provides no explanation of how the survey sample was constructed.”

The researchers emailed the survey to just over 4,000 retired officers. About 48% responded. Forty-four percent of the respondents had retired since 2002. It was among these recent retirees that the number of those with “firsthand knowledge” of manipulation was discovered.

According to Dr. Eterno, the survey was only sent to officers who said they would be willing to return to the force in the event of an emergency—indicating an overall positive view of the department and their duties, not officers with a grudge as Mr. Browne seems to imply.

Crime has fallen across the country over the past few years, much to the puzzlement of nearly everyone. But, has manipulation of crime reporting data played a role in the NYPD? This survey would suggest yes.

We would all like to put faith in the police agencies of this country—that they operate with integrity and the best interests of the citizens at all times. Sometimes, however, this doesn’t seem to be the case.

Whether you were targeted for a stop and frisk and now find yourself facing drug charges, or if you have an active warrant for failure to appear, we may be able to help. Call us today for a consultation on your criminal case.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *