Police officers with the New York Police Department are routinely pressured to downgrade certain crimes to lesser offenses in their official reports, according to an investigative report from New York Magazine.
A few years ago, the NYPD implemented a far-reaching strategy to reduce crime by analyzing a broad range of crime data through a computer program known as CompStat.
By installing the program, the NYPD hoped to gather more detailed information about the location and frequency of certain crimes, which, in theory, would help the police department use its resources more efficiently.
But instead of helping police officers reduce the amount of urban crime in New York, sources suggest that CompStat has led police officers to downgrade serious crimes to lesser offenses in the computer program in order to make it appear like crime is dropping in their districts.
According to one writer for the New York Magazine, CompStat “has filtered through every facet of the department, and making a good show” when the program releases its data “has become an obsession.”
And a recent New York Times survey of several retired police officers supported this claim. Sources say that 80 percent of the thousands of police officers who were interviewed have “personally seen manipulation of numbers” more than three times.
In response to the allegations of corruption, officials for the NYPD blame the statistical irregularities on a few bad members of the force, but one criminologist says that the recent survey “debunks the Police Department’s rotten-apple theory” and “really demonstrates a rotten barrel.”
Of course, while the police department might be downgrading some serious crimes to lesser ones, sources note that crime in New York City has still dropped dramatically in the past decade. However, sources also say that crime has not dropped to the extent that the NYPD claimed.
And while reporters keep peppering the department with questions, Paul Browne, a spokesman for the NYPD, says that surveys such as the one that revealed the 80 percent corruption rate are “trash,” although he didn’t directly refute them.
Browne also can’t explain away an NYPD internal investigation in 2010 that claimed a “disturbing pattern is prevalent and gives credence to the allegation that crimes are being improperly reported in order to avoid index-crime classifications.”
According to this internal report, crimes that were eventually classified as minor offenses included “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.”