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by Peter Moskos

February 26, 2009

Fender bender probe could cost NYPD captain his career

If they want to get you, they can always find a way.

"A patrol car's $221 side-view mirror could wind up costing an NYPD captain his career. A story about a double-parked cruiser and a minor fender bender has snowballed into allegations of conspiracy and coverup." The whole story is in the Daily News.

This is compstat pressure. Or traffic-stat or whatever it's called in this case. See, the captain was worried about getting himself chewed out a new assh*le because traffic accidents in his precinct were up 3.5%. So, the story says, he wanted an accident reclassified as vandalism. Did he do wrong? Yes. Should his career be ruined? No.

I feel sorry for the captain. Of course if he had told me to file a false report, I wouldn't feel sorry for him at all. I don't know. At some point it's a matter of "he-said she-said." It's a messed up situation that now becomes a matter of internal department politics in a micro-managed department. And that's f*cked up.

Compstat has done a lot of good for the NYPD and for New York. And I can't imagine a police world today that didn't use the timely compilation of statistics to allocate resources and identify problems. Really... what's the alternative?


For stats to matter, they need to accurately represent what they claim to. If you judge performance and crime on stats, it is inevitable that the numbers--and not the incidents they're supposed to represent--become more and more important.

When the pressure to produce stats becomes too great, and when the people held responsible for the stats control the stats, then playing with the numbers becomes too tempting and too easy.

I'm not defending fuzzy math, not by any means (plus there's always the problem that once the books are cooked, you need to keep cooking them). I'm just saying it should come as no prize when people living in a stat-based world play with the numbers.


Anonymous said...

Always interesting to read the perspective of a true insider...

It's also hilarious to read the inane comments of a self-aggrandizing assclown who spent 6 months as a tourist in a uniform.

Do you know which one you are? See if you can crack the case!

PCM said...

Don't worry, Inspector Clouseau, I got this case pretty much cracked. And thanks for the clues.

Funny, though... I didn't see too many tourists where I was working. I saw a lot of hard working police like me.

I guess I'm just saying if I could pick where I go on vacation, I wouldn't Iron Alley.

So what's your great insight, Anonymous? I'm all ears.

dave h. said...

Nice smack down of your anonymous detractor, Peter.

See, the problem is that you were a police that decided not to leave his critical thinking skills at the academy. That is an unforgivable sin to some in the profession, but fuck 'em.