Yesterday, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly announced the formation of a new
band committee to study and scrutinize how the NYPD records crime statistics. And while many treated the glorified press release as a sign of humbleness and progress from the police chief, others aren't quite as convinced that anything meaningful will come of the study: “My take on it, at a minimum, is that it is a defensive ploy, because so much has come out. There’s a lot of very incongruous information that they have placed out there...There’s stuff there that belies their conclusions,” Eli Silverman, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told the Times.
Silverman was one of the two criminologists who conducted an FBI-sponsored survey of the NYPD earlier this year; that study found that more than half the 300 precinct commanders interviewed admitted to being aware of instances of “ethically inappropriate” changes to crime complaints. According to the Times, the police department has disputed the methods of that survey, and refuses to take it seriously, despite audio evidence of supervisors instructing officers to massage complaints at roll call—a charge that has been echoed and bolstered by recordings made by Officer Adrian Schoolcraft, who is suing the city.
City Councilman Peter Vallone also is doubtful of the trustworthiness of CompStat: “I believe that the statistics were in fact being manipulated. I have spoken to many current and former police officers who unfortunately refused to go on the record but who have corroborated that fact. And I’ve spoken to many civilians whose valid complaints were not accepted by the Police Department.” Vallone, the chairman of the City Council’s public safety committee, had planned to hold his own hearing on the issue, but said he would wait until this panel had reached its conclusions.
Kelly's panel will include three lawyers who have all worked in the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan: David N. Kelley, who was head of the office from 2003 to 2005; Sharon L. McCarthy, who served as a special counsel to Gov. Andrew Cuomo when he was state attorney general; and Robert G. Morvillo, who once defended Martha Stewart. According to Kelly, they will be able to review “summary documents” on the nature and trends in crime classification; attend commanders’ meetings that are part of CompStat; visit station houses; review the discipline meted out when problems are discovered; and assess how the Police Department makes its data public.