March 23, 2004

Unions, NYPD square off over stats

By Rocco Parascandola and Leonard Levitt Staff Writers

The head of the police union Tuesday called on Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to conduct "a thorough, complete and honest" investigation into allegations that precinct commanders were underreporting crime statistics.

At a news conference at his union's Manhattan office, Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, cited a Newsday report in which police officers alleged that the Bronx 50th precinct commander intentionally downgraded crimes for three years. Lynch maintained that was not an isolated instance.

"It is a truth that is widely known by members of the department," he continued, "and now we have to see if the police commissioner has the courage to face the truth and do what is right for the City of New York."

With Lynch was Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeant's Benevolent Association, who said a similar thing occurred at the Patrol Service Area 9 Housing Unit in Queens.

Lynch also released statistics from the 10th precinct in Manhattan, which underwent an audit in 2002, and then had 203 downgraded crimes be reclassified as felonies.

Newsday reported Monday that in the three years that Inspector Thomas DiRusso commanded the 50th precinct, crime dropped 26 percent. Crime in the precinct rose 11 percent for the first 10 weeks of this year, since his January departure.

Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Paul Browne called Newsday's report "inventions" and said it was "baffling that a police union would assert that its own members are failing to suppress crime as effectively as we know they are."

He accused the PBA of creating "mischief" after DiRusso transferred a union delegate. The union maintains in a lawsuit that the delegate, Joe Anthony, was transferred after he protested the reassignment of another officer who refused to downgrade a grand larceny complaint to petit larceny on the orders her lieutenant.

Lynch said he wrote to Kelly a year ago to complain about the incident but said Kelly did not respond.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday that he was "a bigger advocate, a fan of the members of the PBA than apparently, the union leadership is. ... To criticize the quality of the protection that the police officers are giving us or the management is outrageous."