A recent anonymous survey of almost 2,000 retired New York police officers found that crime reports were frequently manipulated. The officers often felt pressure to reduce crime rates, and at the same time increasing the number of people stopped and frisked on the street. Officers admitted to downgrading crimes to make them look like lesser offenses than they really were, as well as discouraging crime victims from filing reports.
As part of the survey, two researchers mailed questionnaires to over 4,000 former officers who had retired. Almost half responded. The surveys contained some surprising results. Over half of recent retirees said they knew of a case of crime report manipulation, and the vast majority of those officers said they knew of three or more cases of manipulation. Critics of the NYPD also point to a report in The Village Voice this year of a Brooklyn officer who secretly gathered evidence of police report manipulation and reported it to investigators, who later had him involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital.
However, the New York Police Department has serious doubts about the survey. They claim the survey was only mailed to a small percentage of retired officers, and that because only some people responded, the sample is biased. Also, the Police Department pointed out that a criminologist who compared the NYPD’s crime data from 1990 to 2009 for murders, robberies, auto thefts and burglaries to insurance claims found an almost-exact match.
We may not know exactly how much police manipulation of crime reporting goes on, but we do know police are under pressure to keep crime statistics down. If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced New York criminal defense attorney rather than pleading guilty without representation. An attorney can evaluate the evidence the police are using against you to ensure it hasn’t been manipulated.