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by Peter Moskos

June 25, 2010

Schoolcraft Tapes

The more of these tapes I hear, the more I think how good these secretly recorded NYPD officers sound. And this is the best [read: worst] they could come up with? To me it shows what a good job most men and women in the NYPD do.

In the latest batch, particular kudos to Lt Rafael Mascol, who offers some pretty good suggestions as to how Officer Schoolcraft could get higher job evaluation rankings. He offers him other tours. And he says, "Go out there answer some more radio runs. Do some more summonses. Write more reports. Do more proactive work. If you're have trouble seeing activity, we can put you with a more active officer who can see the activity and maybe point it out to you."

It's that last part I really love. And he's not saying this sarcastically. He's trying to help.

Even if Schoolcraft's basic point may be correct (that crime is being downgraded), and despite an order to talk with his sergeant, he did leave an hour early saying he didn't feel well. You can't just walk away from work as a police office. It's called going AWOL. If he did something violent or had a heart attack, the NYPD would have been held responsible.

Even Chief Marino sounds reasonable. Schoolcraft certainly sounds sane, but it's understandable that he has to go to the hospital to get checked out. He was complaining of chest pains, for crying out loud!

He didn't have to get EDP'd (or EP'd, as we say in Baltimore, or, in normal lingo, declared crazy and getting taken to the hospital). It sounds like he could have gone on his own free will as a medical patient. Instead, he said was going to lie there until he felt better. So he went as a mental patient.

The idea of throwing a guy in a mental ward because he's got evidence against the brass sounds great, but it's not what you hear on the tapes. Did he need to be kept locked up for days? I don't know. But that's on those doctors and not the NYPD.

Of all these "secret recording," I couldn't find one of them that says anything that isn't common knowledge or makes the speaker look bad. Most of them make the speaker look good!

Here's Part 1, 2, 3, 4 in the Village Voice. And Lenny Levitt's most recent take. And my first post on the subject.


Anonymous said...

You are a pathetic apologist for bad policing if you try to excuse or condone what NYPD officers and chiefs did in this case.

PCM said...

I might be a pathetic apologist, but what exactly did they even do that I'm condoning?

I don't even see the issue here. At least not beyond the fact that the NYPD has productivity quotas. But we already knew that.

Anonymous said...

PCM - Entered without a warrant; kidnapping; false arrest; sub-human behavior; lying. Nothing you don't see in any other totalitarian environment.

That Fuzzy Bastard said...

If this is the case *against* A.S., then the dude really is a hero.

Let's review the facts:

1. A.S. has recordings of police brass demanding officers bring in a set number of tickets. I've heard the tapes, like every other This American Life listener. It's open-and-shut evidence. They did it. It's illegal. And it's really bad, not just for what it does to the stats; let's take a moment to consider the people who did nothing wrong but had to blow time and money fighting b.s. tickets (or worse) just because some cop wanted the numbers to line up. On this, A.S. is not a fraud, he's right.

2. A.S. alleges that they've also been juking the stats by downgrading, or worse yet, ignoring, actual crimes, especially felonies. If true, this is apocalyptically bad---the face of a woman who's been beaten up and can't get the police to care, because an assault would look bad on their numbers, is the face of utter social breakdown, a world where the cops are not there to punish wrongdoing, or protect people, but simply to move numbers around. I haven't heard tapes proving that, but the NYPD's own report seems to say that is exactly what happened. So score another big one for A.S.

3.The only thing you're actually accusing A.S. of doing is trying to make a profit with a lawsuit against the city. And to that I say: He damn well deserves it. Not only because his livelihood has been destroyed because he tried to expose lawbreaking by the police, the worst crime there is. But also because it is only by making crime expensive that you can stop it.

Real accountability, and real monitoring, is expensive and difficult. Stat-checking is cheap and easy. But it's easy to juke. And the consequences of juking are very, very bad. The only way to stop it is by making juking more expensive than not juking---you'll forgive me if I don't trust the NYPD to do better stat-checking out of the goodness of their hearts.

A great big payout for A.S. just might convince the NYPD to try a little harder to make sure they're following the law, and a little less inclined to kill the messenger.

PCM said...

Except there's nothing on the tapes that actually says what Schoolcraft says they're saying.

The only real proof of wrongdoing has been uncovered by the NYPD. That doesn't make it right, but they're doing a decent job of trying to get their house in order.

That Fuzzy Bastard said...

There's "nothing on the tapes that actually says what Schoolcraft says they're saying"? Did you really write that?

Schoolcraft is alleging that the brass demanded that officers bring in X number of tickets a day for specified offenses, regardless of what they actually saw. The tapes that were aired on This American Life have them saying exactly that. That's what Schoolcraft is alleging, and that's a crime, and that's what the tapes prove.

Other tapes allegedly demonstrate the NYPD making real assaults disappear because they made the numbers look bad. That's not just a crime; it's truly evil. I haven't personally heard the tapes that allegedly prove it, but the NYPD's own report, made in response to Schoolcraft's suit, confirms it.

I truly don't understand your beef with Schoolcraft. He alleged ticket quotas. The tapes prove ticket quotes. He's right. He got the evidence. Case closed. You can insult his father all the live long day, and it won't change the fact that he made the tapes that prove the brass at the 81st broke the law, caused great inconvenience for a lot of law-abiding citizens, and let a number of criminals walk. And instead of sweating that, you're trying to kill the messenger.

PCM said...

I'm not pro-quota. The official NYPD party line, which I don't really buy, is that they are "productivity goals." But I might be wrong. There is a gray area here.

It's inconceivable to me, as a former cop, that a patrol officer can't and shouldn't write a ticket a day, on average. Schoolcraft was either the most incompetent cop ever or just a lazy bum. Did he get in trouble for being a bad cop. No. Because honestly, these quotas I don't really like, they really are "productivity goals."

My beef with Schoolcraft is I think he's a lying piece of crap trying to sue everybody he's ever touched (I hope not me). He informed me of nothing. He influenced the police department not at all, or perhaps a tiny bit (for which I'll give him a tiny bit of credit). But his motives, I believe in my heart, were not for the public good, but to get cash as quickly as possible because obviously he wasn't cut out for the job but didn't have the balls to quit.

We didn't need him as a messenger for what he told us. It would be like me quitting my job to tell you there's global warming. It might be news to some people. But it wouldn't be news to those with any knowledge of the situation. And it wouldn't do shit to change anything.

That Fuzzy Bastard said...

I don't care what his motives are---I don't know them, and unless you've taken up psychic reading, neither do you.

He alleged that cops were not just given "productivity goals", not just told that they should write some tickets, but that they were told they had to bring in x number of tickets for such-and-such crimes. And he produced tapes of the duty officer telling them to bring in x number of tickets for such-and-such crimes.

More seriously, he alleged that serious crimes were being buried to make the numbers look good. The report produced in response to his lawsuit proved that is exactly what happened. You keep saying he's a liar. But you haven't listed a single lie. Everything he's said was true.

You say you don't like quotas. Well, no one does. But they're cheap and easy. The only way this will change is if using bad numbers becomes more expensive than getting good numbers. The only way that will become the case is if the NYPD gets punished for using bad numbers. That's the beauty of the tort system; damages are punitive. I don't care what's in Schoolcraft's heart. He's gotten more results than a whole lot of people with "knowledge of the situation" ever did.