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by Peter Moskos

February 6, 2010

Stat Production

The New York Times reports that, "Intense pressure to produce annual crime reductions led some supervisors and precinct commanders to manipulate crime statistics."

I'm shocked. Shocked.

Reclassifying a $1,100 theft as a $950 theft isn't the end of the world. But a police culture where it's OK to play a bit fast and loose with the numbers is in nobody's best interests.

Plus, if you play with the numbers this year, you have to play with the numbers next year just to keep even.

Does this mean the crime drop is a lie? No. Of course not.

But it does mean that hard-working and well intentioned officers are under too much pressure to produce better and better "stats."


Anonymous said...

Little lies become big lies, and those lies become bigger lies. When government lies to the people, it is usually a very bad thing.

By the way, welcome back Peter.

Dave H.- IL

PCM said...

Thanks, Dave!

It's so much that the police are lying to the people as much as they are lying to themselves.

That is what's so damn silly.

It's usually just about murders and things that matter but minor "stats," some of which exist only in the police world.

Do you think anybody outside the department gives one damn about how many C-summons were issued is such and such precinct last month?

Still, I can't quite figure out how the dept can stop the stupid Compstat pressure without letting other things go to seed.

Homicides are still down. For all it's problems, the NYPD is still basically doing things right.