commentary on Politics and a little bit of everything else

Police Crime Data is political……..

Do you feel safe in your city?

The answer to that may come from your local police departmenet……The information from your local beat cop, or police officer riding around taking reports in a cruiser  most of the time dictates the answer to my above question…..

Perceptions always matter in everything…..

If there is a report of a large amount of crime…..That is going to effect everything in an area from house prices, education and voting patterns…

With this I mind …I give you this about the New York City Police Department and a study a group of recently retired supervisor’s completed…..

Those supervisor’s where the people to supply those figures to their bosses…..The head of their departments…..who then report their figures to their bosses …..the heads of  their Towns or Cities……

[Rudolph W. Giuliani in 1995 discussing the crime rate. At left is the police commissioner at the time, William J. Bratton.]

More than a hundred retired New York Police Department captains and higher-ranking officers said in a survey that the intense pressure to produce annual crime reductions led some supervisors and precinct commanders to manipulate crime statistics, according to two criminologists studying the department.

The retired members of the force reported that they were aware over the years of instances of “ethically inappropriate” changes to complaints of crimes in the seven categories measured by the department’s signature CompStat program, according to a summary of the results of the survey and interviews with the researchers who conducted it.

The totals for those seven so-called major index crimes are provided to the F.B.I., whose reports on crime trends have been used by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his predecessor,Rudolph W. Giuliani, to favorably compare New York to other cities and to portray it as aprofoundly safer place, an assessment that the summary does not contradict.

In interviews with the criminologists, other retired senior officers cited examples of what the researchers believe was a periodic practice among some precinct commanders and supervisors: checking eBay, other Web sites, catalogs or other sources to find prices for items that had been reported stolen that were lower than the value provided by the crime victim. They would then use the lower values to reduce reported grand larcenies — felony thefts valued at more than $1,000, which are recorded as index crimes under CompStat — to misdemeanors, which are not, the researchers said.

Others also said that precinct commanders or aides they dispatched sometimes went to crime scenes to persuade victims not to file complaints or to urge them to change their accounts in ways that could result in the downgrading of offenses to lesser crimes, the researchers said.

“Those people in the CompStat era felt enormous pressure to downgrade index crime, which determines the crime rate, and at the same time they felt less pressure to maintain the integrity of the crime statistics,” said John A. Eterno, one of the researchers and a former New York City police captain.

His colleague, Eli B. Silverman, added, “As one person said, the system provides an incentive for pushing the envelope.”

The incentive to make things ‘right’ is the political component of the issue…..lower crime helps the police and the politicians the work for….

The CompStat system was put in place by Mr. Bratton, Mr. Giuliani’s first of three police commissioners. Versions of the system have been franchised to hundreds of police departments. It was adopted, and in some cases modified, by Mr. Bratton’s successors under Mr. Giuliani,Howard Safir and Bernard B. Kerik, and by Mr. Bloomberg’s commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly.

But as the city annually reported reductions in crime, skepticism emerged in certain quarters — several police unions other than the one that assisted with this survey, elected officials, residents in some neighborhoods — about whether the department’s books were being “cooked.”

Concerns over crime statistics are not unique to New York. Police departments have faced accusations of tampering in Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, New Orleans and Washington.

In fairness to the NYPD…….

Mr. Kelly, for his part, has said for some time that he had instituted a rigorous auditing system to maintain the integrity of the crime reporting operation. And Mr. Browne [the current NYPD Spokesperson] said Friday that every precinct’s books were audited twice a year, “and where errors are discovered, they are corrected and reflected in revised crime statistics.” He added, “In cases where it is determined that the errors were the result of intentional manipulation, the personnel responsible are disciplined.”

The piece goes on to examine the effect of the Compstat system ……which like the No Child Left Behind phomonon…has begun to have supervisors do what the teachers have done…..’teach to the test’….not get students to laern…..in the police case…supervisor move to smooth the numbers down to ease the pain of being in Compstat sessions with rising crime figures instead of dropping ones……

Indeed, the researchers said the responses supported longstanding concerns voiced by some critics about the potential problems inherent in CompStat. The former officers indicate that it was the intense pressure brought to bear on the commanders of the city’s 76 precincts in twice-weekly CompStat meetings — where they are grilled, and sometimes humiliated, before their peers and subordinates, and where careers and promotions could be made or lost — that drove some to make “unethical” and “highly unethical” alterations to crime reports.

“CompStat was a good idea in theory,” wrote one respondent. “However the process rules managerial decisions. We do not manage to serve people but to lower crime statistics any way we can because your career depends on it.”


Roy T. Richter, president of the Captains Endowment Association, which represents the retired officials, said the challenges that his retired members had faced — and his active members still face — were significant, as crime continues to decline and precinct commanders must continue to beat their previous year’s performance despite a force with thousands fewer officers.

He called the survey results “troubling,” and said that while CompStat can be an effective tool, to the extent that it is “used as a sword to subject a commander to humiliation before his peers, I don’t think it’s an effective management tool.”

If you make a point that you want lower crime figures….and we all do…..the men and women in your employe will make it so….

And that will benefit the Mayor……whoever he or she might be..in whatever town or city ….not just New York…..

Note…..All Police Chiefs are politicnas…they serve at the pleasure of their elected officials……

Police Chief’s that don’t do and look good….are expendable…..

February 6, 2010 - Posted by | Crime, Government, Law, Media, Men, PoliticalDog Calls, Politics, Polls | , , , ,

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