In the 81st Precinct in New York City, a cop, Schoolcraft, secretly recorded roll call and other happenings over the course of the year.
Though all he seems to show is something we all should already know. In the NYPD, everybody is under intense pressure to produce good "stats" (arrests and citations) and reduce bad stats (crime numbers). I suppose the good of the tapes is the department may finally have to stop trying to say with a straight face that officers are not under pressure to meet arrest and citation quotas. Compstat has done a lot of good. But the impact of a stat-driven culture on the incoming rank-and-file is not very productive.
The article, which is a bit too long (though I look forward to reading the next installment!), makes some claims I strongly disagree with. For instance, responding officer at a scene certainly has a responsibility to judge the validity of a victim's claim. Police patrol officers are not just report writers. And detectives who claim otherwise are doing a grave disservice to the majority of police officers.
Overall, reading the story and listening to some of the recordings, I couldn't help but think what good leaders these were. The men and women leading roll call look out for their troops, warn them of bureaucratic nightmares, and try an instill a strong work ethic.
And some of the stories just make me nostalgic for my policing days. The sergeant who deadpans the danger of mine shafts in Bed-Stuy? What a progressive pedagogical approach (I'm trying to use fancy words here) to help officers not get in trouble for failing to carry... whistle holders. Yes, in the police word, where you put your life on the line almost every day, if they want to, they can bang you for sh*t like not carrying a whistle holder. (Just FYI, I had previously never heard of a whistle holder. In Baltimore, I managed to hold my whistle just fine without a dedicated whistle holder. The whistle, it turns out, makes an excellent key chain for the easy to lose but important to have handcuff key.)
Nobody's got your whistle holder, and half of you don't have your whistle. That's unacceptable. When I fall down the mine shaft, I'm the only one that's going to be able to call for help. The rest of you are going to have to fire off your gun, and they'll give you a [reprimand] for that.I love this guy!
And is this really too much to ask?: "You want to draw penises, draw them in your own memo book." Hard to argue with that request.
But I think the only reason we didn't "cock" memo books in the Eastern was because Baltimore cops don't have memo books. (Is there a point to memo books except creating more paperwork?) Makes me think of my buddy who reads this blog (yeah, I'm talking about you). He would wait for any new LT to finish roll call with the very decent question, "Does anybody have anything?" To which he would answer with unbridled glee, "I have this horrible burning sensation when I pee!"
Cracked me up every time.