Some New York City police officers say they’ve been pressured by their bosses to reduce the number of felony incidents reported, in an effort to keep crime statistics low, reported the New York Times.
According to the paper, though Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly produced a decline in crime and maintained a perception that the city was a much safer place than in years past, in truth, the yearly crime rate rose in 2011, and is currently another 4.4 percent higher than last year.
Kelly created a panel in January 2011 to analyze the crime-reporting system, but the panel has not issued a public report yet. In addition, the NYPD conducts regular audits of police reports to detect misclassified crimes; in 2011, the error rate was 1.5 percent.
In a review of more than 100 police reports from the last four months provided to the Times, the paper found a number of instances in which the police report made the crime out to be less serious than the district attorney – or a victim – would argue subsequently.
“[This] illustrates how desperately Bloomberg's police department requires reform and independent oversight," said Joo-Hyun Kang, a spokesperson from Communities United for Police Reform (CPR). "Pressure on the department to report low crime numbers that don't match reality hurts New Yorkers and prioritizes statistics over safety.
"The Community Safety Act, which is currently pending in the City Council, would provide needed reforms and independent oversight to improve the NYPD and avoid issues like this from going unaddressed.”
One NYPD supervisor told the paper said it was common for officers “to tweak the complaint reports” after pressure from sergeants and lieutenants, and to “leave out something” or “change the facts of the situation to make it a non-felony crime.”
“Do I feel that supervisors based on some real or perceived pressure may reclassify crimes? 'Yes,'” said Wilford Pinkney, a former detective who retired in 2009.