NYPD Forms Crime Tracking Panel

Police want to ensure accuracy of their statistics

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    WireImage
    New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly

    Amid allegations that city police downgrade crimes, the NYPD is launching a review of how it records felonies and misdemeanors.

    Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Wednesday that he tapped a group of former federal prosecutors to examine the NYPD's CompStat reporting system and its internal auditing.

    Police say downgrading happens rarely, if ever, and that the department already has a well-regarded auditing unit.

    "Nevertheless, every system can be improved, and our goal is a misclassification rate of zero," Kelly said.

    The committee is expected to spend about six months attending CompStat meetings, visiting police commanders, and reviewing documents on crime classifications.

    Among the group's members: David Kelly, Sharon McCarthy and Robert Morvillo, lawyers who have worked as assistant U.S. attorneys in New York, as well as in private practice.

    McCarthy helped investigate whether the New York State Police acted improperly regarding allegations of domestic violence against an aide to former Gov. David Paterson. Kelly was a police officer in East Hampton, N.Y., and Morvillo specialized in prosecuting fraud.

    This panel is the department's second major effort in recent weeks to show there is nothing phony about the city's historic crime drop. Just before Christmas, a decade's worth of misdemeanor data was released, and department officials said it showed there were no trends that reflect downgrading.

    Since 2002, on Kelly's watch, the city has seen the four lowest annual murder totals since 1962, when such statistics were first kept. Part of the formula for success has been CompStat — a computer program that tracks crimes and helps police deploy manpower.  Local commanders are judged mercilessly on their precincts' crime statistics at sometimes contentious CompStat meetings.

    Critics say this accountability fosters the temptation to record felonies as misdemeanors — or sometimes not to record them at all.  The department has demoted or transferred a handful of commanders amid allegations of cooking the books in recent years.

    Still, the NYPD stands by its crime numbers, saying the instances of manipulating stats are minute in a city where more than 2,000 serious crimes are reported each week.

    But some officers insist that fudging exists. A whistleblower police officer in the 81st Precinct in Brooklyn, Adrian Schoolcraft, says he was thrown into a psychiatric ward for days because his superiors discovered that he had been secretly recording their discussions on downgrading crime and filling quotas through false summonses and arrests.

    Even critics agree that despite such allegations, New York is much safer than in the past. Kelly said reliable statistics are vital to good police work and keeping the city's confidence.

    "The integrity of our crime reporting system is of the utmost importance to the department," he said.