March 24, 2004

Police Brass ‘Cooking’ Books, PBA Says

Bloomberg, Kelly Deny Fudging Crime Stats

Staff Reporter of the Sun

The head of the city’s police union charged yesterday that NYPD supervisors are deliberately “cooking the books” to downgrade crime statistics to show major crime is still on the decline.

The president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Pat Lynch, said he wants Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to conduct an audit of all police commands to determine if crime stats have been fudged.

“We’ve reached a point where some NYPD commanders are ordered to falsify stats in order to maintain the continuing reduction in crime,” Mr. Lynch said at a press conference yesterday with the head of the Sergeant’s Benevolent Association, Ed Mullins.

“Some precinct commanders are cooking the books in order to make themselves look good at the expense of the public who are now living at risk because they are not getting the resources they need,” he said.

Asked for comment, Mayor Bloomberg criticized Mr. Lynch.

“You can’t have it both ways,” he said. “You can’t have a billboard in Times Square claiming your doing such a great job and therefore need a raise. Then the same guy goes on the steps of where ever he gave his press conference and claim that the numbers of the success of the NYPD are inflated.”

A spokesman for Mr. Kelly denied there was any downgrading of serious crimes.

“Our police officers have made New York the safest city in America. Only the PBA disagrees,” said the deputy commissioner for public information, Paul Browne.

Mr. Lynch said three commands in the city appear to have questionable record-keeping practices — the 50th Precinct in the Bronx, the 10th Precinct in Manhattan, and housing police Unit 9 in Kew Gardens, Queens.

During the three-year tenure of police Inspector Thomas DiRusso at the 50th Precinct, a report showed the inspector was able to reduce crime 26%. Crime has risen there by 11% since his transfer in January.

“It is clear that the former commander of the 50th Precinct in the Bronx maintained the appearance of decreasing crime through dishonest practices,” he said.

Mr. Brown said the union singled out the precinct because an officer who happened to be a union representative at the precinct was disciplined.

“An outstanding commanding officer and his lieutenants were slandered because they had the temerity to take disciplinary action against an insubordinate police officer who happened to be a PBA delegate,” Mr. Browne said.

Mr. Lynch said a similar pattern developed in Manhattan’s 10th Precinct.

“The Department of Investigation last year also showed that this practice was happening by the commanding officer of the 10th Precinct in Manhattan as well,” he said.

“In the year 2003, the 10th Precinct was showing a 7% reduction in crime until they got caught cooking the books. They ended that year with a 50% increase in crime in that community,” Mr. Lynch said.

Mr. Mullins said a sergeant in housing’s Unit 9 in Queens brought up another discrepancy.

The sergeant complained to his union representative that a supervisor in that unit was asking officers to downgrade criminal complaint reports, from felony grand larceny to misdemeanor petit larceny.

“It came to our attention that numbers weren’t matching up,” Mr. Mullins said.“It’s become a common practice to downgrade complaints. This has become a problem both for the department and the public and the police officers on patrol.

“These are safety issues that present a false sense of security. People have a right to know. It’s in the public interest,” he said.

Mr. Browne said the whole issue puzzles him.

“It is baffling that a police union would assert that its members are failing to suppress crime as effectively as we know they are,” he said.

Mr. Lynch fell short of calling for an independent and external audit.