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by Peter Moskos

April 25, 2009

Cooking the books?

Anonymous posted a comment on the previous post: I can't wait for the fudged numbers of the NYPD Comp-stat to be exposed..."

Boy, there sure is a lot of chatter about the fudged numbers in the NYPD (and I'm talking about chatter from NYPD officers). I didn't hear this nearly so much even just a few years ago. It seems that downgrading crime is becoming part of NYPD culture. And that's a shame because it takes away from the hard work of the NYPD in actually decreasing crime.

But I don't believe the homicide numbers are fudged. According to the latest official crime stats (week of 4/13/09 to 4/19/09), there have been 109 murders this year compared to 142 at this time last year. That's a 23 percent drop. That's a real drop. That's not playing fast and loose with the numbers. That's saving lives.

And if the other numbers go down in sync, the drop is probably real even if the numbers aren't. Sure, maybe felony assault and grand larcenies are a lower than reality would indicate. But if you think about it, as long as the errors are consistent month to month and year to year, those errors don't have much of an effect. The shame is that any effort put into lowering stats is kind of wasted because you have to keep cooking just to keep even. Once you start cooking the books, you can't stop. At least not without what will look like a big one-time increase in crime.

To police officers I offer this bit of unsolicited advice: call it like you see it. Nobody can make you downgrade crime. Except when they do. Then write the facts as you believe them in the narrative and keep a separate list of notes documenting when, where, and who ordered you to do what.

If the books are being cooked, one day it will boil over in scandal (and until then it chips away at a culture of honesty and integrity). And when the shit does hit the fan, the brass will cover theirs while throwing a few others under the bus.

They'll be covering theirs; you need to cover yours.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'll have to agree with you 100% with the homicides, its the classification of crimes which I am talking about. (I'm an officer with the NYPD)

Love the blog, and I recommend it to all my fellow officers. Keep up the great work.