About . . . . . . Classes . . . . . . Books . . . . . . Vita . . . . . . . Links. . . . . . Blog

by Peter Moskos

May 6, 2010

The NYPD Tapes

A reader pointed me to this story in New York's Village Voice.

In the 81st Precinct in New York City, a cop, Schoolcraft, secretly recorded roll call and other happenings over the course of the year.

Bold.

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.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

1. Did u mean --cook--?

2. You should take a look at the Columbia, MO swat raid vid that went viral yesterday. Would luv 2 have yer comments on that.

Johnny Law said...

I saw the video. Sucks that they shot the dogs. I've done multiple raids and the dogs were shot twice. Unfortunately it has to be done if they attack the entry team. However in my experience, the dogs usually run like hell when an entry team comes in.

Anonymous said...

Well there is no question that it happens all the time. Usually there isn't such informative video. People seem to questioning the tactics (including the raid itself, the shooting of the dogs and the attitude shown by the arresting officers).

David Bratzer said...

The drawing of certain body parts in a colleague's police notebook actually serves a vital sociological function. It reminds the inexperienced or absent minded officer to never leave his or her notebook lying around again.

A police notebook is a document of great importance. Officers should know where it is at all times; it cannot be out of their possession. When someone does draw humorously shaped vegetables in a fellow constable's notebook, they have given that officer an informal reminder that he or she will never forget. Therefore, instead of being investigated by internal affairs, the carrot and turnip artist should in fact receive a commendation for peer leadership.

I'm sure there's a masters thesis in all of this somewhere.

PCM said...

Very well said, David!

Anonymous said...

Anon,
I watched that Columbia video. Can you be more specific on the criticism that you say "people" are offering?
Ed

PCM said...

http://www.theagitator.com/2010/05/05/video-of-swat-raid-on-missouri-family/

PCM said...

It's just another SWAT-like raid to me. I don't like them unless for they're for good cause. This was not good cause.

But I don't see what makes this one any different. Tactically they did fine. Too bad it never should have happened.

Anonymous said...

The primary things people seem to be criticizing are:

1. shooting at dogs indoors where innocent people may be present. the chance of killing an innocent should outweigh the risk that an officer gets a bite.

2. Not giving owners a chance to restrain the dogs. These raids seem like pretty much an automatic death sentence for any large dog. A lot of people see that as wrong, and even downright evil (at least on a mere search warrant -- the calculus is a bit different when the police are going after Bonnie and Clyde on an arrest warrant obviously).

3. Some people claim to see an unwarranted face kick.

4. Police had a disrespectful demeanor -- seemed to relish the killing of the dog and the wounding of the other dog.

5. Supposedly, three officers shot at the pit bull dog. Supposedly (and I can't vouch one way or the other on this) this is bad because when one SWAT guy is shooting at the dog, the others are supposed to be covering him and watching otehr directions.

None of this should minimize PCM's comments about that this raid should not have happened. Just that there may be plenty of blame to go around at both the management level and the talent level.

Johnny Law said...

"1. shooting at dogs indoors where innocent people may be present. the chance of killing an innocent should outweigh the risk that an officer gets a bite."

Soooo the officer should take a possibly serious dog bite? Do you seriously think that officers would do their job if they weren't allowed to protect themselves. I would love to see you stand your ground when being charged by a pit bull. You do know that when you shoot a dog, you are generally shooting downward right? This is the least likely trajectory that would hurt a bystander.

"2. Not giving owners a chance to restrain the dogs. These raids seem like pretty much an automatic death sentence for any large dog. A lot of people see that as wrong, and even downright evil (at least on a mere search warrant -- the calculus is a bit different when the police are going after Bonnie and Clyde on an arrest warrant obviously)."

I understand why they don't let the suspect walk around while they are clearing the house. Things haven't been secured yet so you don't let the suspect access a weapon. These raids really aren't usually death sentences for dogs. I've seen most pitbulls, shepards, and other big breeds run for the hills when we bust in. The problem on this raid was the team did a weak entry. The keys to a good entry are speed, surprise, and violence of action. This usually overloads the dogs and they bail. This particular entry seemed half-assed to me.

"3. Some people claim to see an unwarranted face kick."

Didn't see this. Doubt it.

"4. Police had a disrespectful demeanor -- seemed to relish the killing of the dog and the wounding of the other dog."

Where do you get this from? They were trying to secure the house and didn't have time to cry over the dogs.

"5. Supposedly, three officers shot at the pit bull dog. Supposedly (and I can't vouch one way or the other on this) this is bad because when one SWAT guy is shooting at the dog, the others are supposed to be covering him and watching otehr directions."

So you admit you don't know SWAT tactics but you go ahead and criticize them anyway? No comment.

Jeff said...

Seems to me the cops in the video did everything by the book. As much traction as the video is getting, these individuals should not be in any trouble, they followed the rules as far as I can tell.

I do think the rules that the cops were following badly need to be changed. And not just for that particular swat team in that particular city.

It is very depressing to know that if some informant gives the cops false information, or the cops get the wrong address (it happens) that could be my house, my dog dead.

Anonymous said...

worth reading:

http://reason.com/archives/2010/05/11/a-drug-raid-goes-viral/

Anonymous said...

've seen most pitbulls, shepards, and other big breeds run for the hills when we bust in.

The dogs did run. They got cornered in the kitchen, where they were shot. This is why you do not see a dead pit bull near the front door in the video. There is only so far that a large dog can run in a closed house. Once the large dog is cornered it is going to get shot. The search warrant is a death sentence for the dog, at least the way search warrants are executed these days. Just like it was for Cheye Calvo's dogs.

Johnny Law said...

You can keep saying they are death sentences for dogs but that isn't usually true unless the dogs are more aggressive than your average dog.

Like I've said, I've done many many raids and dogs only got shot in two of them. The two dogs that got shot were pitbulls and were trained by their owners to be vicious. Of course that is my actual experience talking so I doubt a youtube video makes you a bigger expert than me.

Anonymous said...

Question for Johnny Law:

would you have shot the dog on this stop:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lv0T2X1dXcI

How about this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FFlWGeb_aw

Johnny Law said...

"Question for Johnny Law:

would you have shot the dog on this stop:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lv0T2X1dXcI

How about this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FFlWGeb_aw"

Hmmm...not sure what these have to do with search warrants. I'm not sure if I would have shot the dog in the first video but I didn't have it coming straight at me either. I think I would have shot the dog in the second video. It was bigger and coming directly towards the officer.

I assume you would have just taken the bites and been glad to do it? Or perhaps you would have dog whispered it into submission?

Anonymous said...

If those video show all it takes to get a dog shot, then a search warrant (as they are currently executed) is, like I said, indeed a death sentence for any large dog.

BTW, I have encountered more large, aggressive dogs than you ever will. I have been jumped and even knocked over by more large dogs* than you ever will (both in people's houses and in their yards). Facing large dogs was a regular part of my job for several years. I faced more risk of serious dog bites than you ever will. because you consider the dogs in the two videos to be aggressive, it is clear that you would consider pretty much any large dog to be aggressive.

FOOTNOTE:

* Excluding of course my own families' dogs (we never had any), friend's dogs or dogs belonging to my employer. I am talking about other peoples' dogs.

PCM said...

I found mace worked nicely on dugs (sic). But that was only while going through outside alleys alone.

Johnny Law said...

"If those video show all it takes to get a dog shot, then a search warrant (as they are currently executed) is, like I said, indeed a death sentence for any large dog."

I guess you think that if you keep saying something enough times, it becomes true?

"BTW, I have encountered more large, aggressive dogs than you ever will. I have been jumped and even knocked over by more large dogs* than you ever will (both in people's houses and in their yards)."

Congratulations on your bravery in being tackled by large dogs. If you don't mind taking a serious bite, then more power to you. However I am not going to risk a possible career ending injury because the corner drug dealer decided to keep a pitbull in the house. Getting bit by a dog is not in a police officer's job description.

And even though I feel that way, once again, it is very very rare for dogs to be shot during the execution of search warrants. Does it still happen sometimes? Yep. We don't live in a perfect world.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your bravery in being tackled by large dogs. If you don't mind taking a serious bite, then more power to you.

Yes. I risked that. I THINK your attitude coward reeks of cowardice. I speak from experience.

Johnny Law said...

Soooo not wanting to get bitten by a dog is cowardice? Gotcha.

I will reflect on my cowardly nature tomorrow night when I am responding to 911 calls that involve fights in progress and shots being fired. You have a safe night Mr. Hero Dogcatcher.

Gotti Rules said...

Pete, as you know, there were no memo books to cook in Eastern. But, if you remember there was a court book and somehow that book would occasionally turn up missing, especially when officers didn't want to attend court. That way, they couldn't get charged with FTA.

PCM said...

You probable still have the court book in your old locker, which has probably also never been emptied out.

And the memo books were not "cooked," but "cocked." I don't think the court book was ever cocked. Why didn't we think of such things?