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article image19 NYPD officers allegedly downgraded crimes in Bronx precinct

By Megan Hamilton     Jul 19, 2015 in Crime
Bronx - Nineteen NYPD officers in the Bronx 40th precinct face possible departmental charges because city investigators have uncovered dozens of cases where crimes were allegedly misreported, authorities say.
All of the officers — a lieutenant, eight sergeants, nine police officers, and one detective — are facing possible administrative charges of misreporting crimes during a period of four months in 2014, NBC New York reports.
The commanding officer of the precinct has been transferred due to the findings of the audit.
When the Quality Assurance Division audit team audited the precinct, it reviewed radio call response activity and also inspected 1,558 complaint reports. It found 55 instances of misrepresentation. Most of the reports were low-level crimes including petit larceny; lost property; misdemeanor assault; criminal mischief; and criminal trespass.
All 55 complaint reports are being corrected to reflect the proper offense categories, authorities say, per NBC New York.
Officials said on Friday that the manipulation of the reports made it appear as if crime had dropped more than it actually had, The New York Daily News reported.
The probe was spurred by anonymous complaint in August, officials say.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the charges are "strict but fair."
"The purposeful misrepresentation of crime data is rare but nevertheless unacceptable," he said.
The charges filed by the Department Advocate's Office of the NYPD will likely include official misconduct and filing a false instrument. The officers could face loss of vacation or possible termination.
Local activists from Cop Watch say this doesn't surprise them, NY1 reports.
"What they are doing is telling people in the community that crime is being controlled so people feel safe to come out into the community because they think crime is at a safe level," says Cop Watch member Jose LaSalle.
Rather than dropping by 14 percent as reported, crime had instead decreased by 11 percent.
False reporting can affect the number of officers placed in precincts, says the head of the City Council's public safety committee.
"We make decisions based on resources and other factors in the police department so we have a trust that the information is shared is accurate and correct," says Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson. "I am very disappointed, obviously."
Although officials didn't provide specifics, they did give generic examples of how these schemes may work, according to Newsday:
"A cellphone stolen from a jacket is misclassified as being lost, shattered glass of a storefront with evidence of attempted burglary is reported as criminal mischief."
Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, a police officer's union, said in a statement that the union will "vigorously defend these police officers."
"Police officers follow the dictates of their bosses," he says, "or they suffer the consequences."
Downgrading crimes has long been a systemic problem within the NYPD for many years, says Ed Mullins, head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, according to The New York Daily News. He also says that officers who engage in this are acting on the orders of bosses who are pressured to produce numbers that show crime on the down turn.
Challenging Bratton, Mullins questioned why news regarding the audit was released Friday, when the investigation has been going on since last year.
"I'm not surprised, but disappointed by the timing of Commissioner Bratton's press release on the one-year anniversary of the death of Eric Garner," he said, in reference to the Staten Island man who died while in a police chokehold. "This is an obvious ploy to show the department's efforts for reform on the backs of hardworking officers."
In March, Bratton created a Risk Management Bureau that has a Quality Assurance Division that audits the NYPD's 98 commands twice each year.
"The accuracy of our numbers must be unquestionable," he said.
"I will not tolerate any misconduct that might undermine public confidence in the hard work of the thousands of officers who have made this the safest large city in America," Bratton told NBC New York.
Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration commended the NYPD's disciplinary action.
"The only way to keep our city safe is to ensure police officers are accurately reporting criminal incidents," a spokeswoman said. She added that de Blasio had "full confidence" in the department's reporting and auditing structures that are currently in place.
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