Criminal justice experts question NYPD crime stats

August 27, 2010 3:18:33 PM PDT
Is the NYPD "cooking the books" about crime statistics? Fudging the numbers to make New York City look safer than it really is? That's the takeaway from some criminal justice experts, who say cops are being pressured to downplay crime.

Two Doctorates of Criminal Justice say the NYPD's weekly obsession with crime statistics is pressuring police to fudge the numbers.

Eli Silverman, PhD/Prof. Emeritus John Jay says, "Numbers dictate the system and numbers dictate how you're evaluated and that needs to change."

Professors Eli Silverman and John Eterno addressed a closed-door conference today at John Jay College where FBI and police officials from around the world discussed the findings of their survey of retired NYPD Captains.

"These officers promised anonymity, captains and above over 80 of them stated that there were unethical manipulation of crime reports," said Dr. Eterno.

Commissioner Kelly brushed it off as old news. "They did this in February, so we responded in February," he said.

Mayor Bloomberg was just as dismissive in his radio address. "If you cook the books it isn't going to stay private for very long. Somebody's going to find out about it and then, the management, Kelly on down is going to come down on you like a brick."

But all they seem to be coming down on are those in the department who speak out about the focus on numbers. Officer Adil Polanco of the 42nd precinct who spoke out against quotas last March in an Eyewitness News Investigation has been suspended. So too Officer Schoolcraft of the 81st precinct. Now, add to that another officer from another Precinct, one in the Bronx who insists the books are being cooked.

"There is a magical decrease in crime, consistently," said the officer.

Just days ago, one officer agreed to talk anonymously to Eyewitness News' Jim Hoffer, about what he says is the daily down-grading of crimes even, at times, out-right disappearance of crime reports. His experience seems to back up the findings of these two criminologists.

"People come in and report a crime, you hand in report, then they come back and try to get a complaint number and you can't find it," he said.
Jim Hoffer: The reports gone?
Officer: Yeah, they're gone. It's like it never happened.
Jim Hoffer: Have you seen this occur?
Officer: I've seen it occur for a burglary where the report just disappears.
Jim Hoffer: How often does it happen?
Officer: It's pretty frequent thing. People come to us to fill out reports to help them, you try, but these things disappear, so the victim is a victim again.