“Disappearing” Urban Crime

“The news for New York City is spectacular,"
New York`s Mayor

Michael R. Bloomberg
told a City Hall press
conference on Monday. He and New York Police
Commissioner

Raymond Kelly
[Email
him
] were claiming credit for new
FBI crime stats showing major crimes—murder, rape,
robbery, aggravated assault, burglary,

car theft,
larceny and arson—dropping 5.8% in the
city in 2003. New York`s crime rate now ranks it 211th
of the 230 U.S. cities with 100,000-plus
population—behind Omaha,

Nebraska
and

Wichita, Kansas.

Unfortunately, there must have been at least one
skeptic at the press conference. Hizzoner reportedly
“bristled”
at suggestions that the city`s crime
stats are being driven down artificially by
numbers-fudging police commanders.

“`C`mon,” Bloomberg
snapped. “It is just not the case. `”
[Our
incredible shrinking crime rate,

by David Saltonstall, New York Daily News, May
25, 2004]

Well, I am a skeptic. I say: sure, it`s the case!
Because I`ve seen it.

Some reporters – most notably

Leonard Levitt of Newsday
—have intermittently
written on crimes that have been “disappeared” in
New York by creative police reporting. But to my
knowledge, I am the only journalist actually to have
been at the scene of one.

It occurred on December 8, 1995—when New York`s crime
decline had been supposedly underway for some five
years. At about 10:30 p.m., on a Queens-bound A train, a
man ended an argument with two brothers by shooting one
of them. Then he exited at

Kingston-Throop station
, in Bedford Stuyvesant,
Brooklyn.

Riding two cars away, I neither saw nor heard the
shooting. However, I interviewed a witness, saw the
20-something

black victim
on a gurney doing a convincing
impression of a corpse, his inconsolable, raging (and
apparently twin) brother accompanying him, and two
emergency medical technicians wheeling away the gurney.

Since the train was a crime scene, we passengers had
to exit it and the station, walk through “Bed-Stuy”
to the Manhattan-bound local station, take a train three
stops, and then turn around on a Queens-bound train that
skipped the crime scene station.

It took me over three hours to get home that night.

In the subway below and on the street above, I
counted no less than 39 police officers of every rank—an
extraordinary response.

The huge response was because, approximately 12 hours
earlier, a black supremacist named Roland Smith Jr.
a.k.a.

Abubunde Mulocko
, had entered Jewish-owned

Freddie`s Fashion Mart
in Harlem, which was besieged
by a racist “boycott,” yelled “It`s on!,”
and ordered all customers to leave. In what became known
as the

Harlem Massacre,
Smith proceeded to shoot four
people, set the store ablaze, murder seven (non-white)
store employees, and commit suicide.

That made for at least five shootings on December 8.

A few weeks later, I asked NYPD press rep Officer
Kathie Kelly if there had been any shootings on December
8. She told me she`d get back to me.

Later, she informed me: “There were no shootings
on the eighth.”

Since 1991, I have fought off at least eight racial
attacks, including two attempted muggings. All were
“disappeared”
by police or prosecutors—even when I
had bloody wounds; when the police had been called to
the scene by a

subway motorman
or (unbeknownst to me) an anonymous
witness who corroborated my depiction of events; or when
the attack took place on camera, in front of a black
postal police officer. (In 1994, a black New Jersey bus
driver who had recently fled Brooklyn, suggested that.
in New York, crime victims require legal representation
no less than defendants, if they wish their cases
prosecuted.)

And the fudging of crime statistics is not just a
story in the

Naked City.

  • On October 23,
    2003,

    five New Orleans police officers
    —including First
    District captain,

    Norvel Orazio
    , a 29-year veteran, who had won awards
    for reducing crime—were fired, and a sixth was demoted,
    for improperly downgrading crime complaints so that they
    would not show up in crime statistics.

  • On February 20, an
    audit of

    Atlanta`s police records
    showed that the suppression
    and loss of crime records was endemic for many years,
    with 22,000 police reports of 911 calls disappearing in
    2002 alone.

  • Similar
    mini-scandals have also occurred in recent years in

    Philadelphia
    and Boca Raton, Florida.

Urban police departments have for years been under
intense pressure to reduce violent crime. But blacks and
Hispanics have a virtual monopoly over urban violent
crime. (In New York City in 1998, 89.2 percent of
suspects in violent crimes were black or Hispanic.) And
police officials dare not offend outraged black and
Hispanic criminals, or

their supporters
in the media and in politics who

constantly invent
“racial profiling” hoaxes.

The police`s job is impossible. And so, instead of

policing hoodlums
, today`s modern, urban police
managers aggressively police … impressions. The
“disappearing”
of crime is one of their leading
impression management methods.

Critics may counter: “So what are you saying,
they`re hiding bodies?!”

Not at all. Keep in mind: most crime reporters do not
ride late at night in subway cars to observe crime
firsthand, drive through city streets listening to
police scanners and racing to crime scenes, or take
inventory at city morgues. They are more likely to ride
through the city in taxicabs. Many seem to know—or want
to know—only why police officials deign to tell them.
And these officials simply refuse to report many violent
felonies.

Detectives engage in the wholesale “unfounding”
of crimes i.e. determine that allegation were
“unfounded.”
And murders are reclassified as
non-criminal deaths. But in most cases, crime is
“disappeared”
by the street officer who engages in
“creative writing,” turning felonies into
misdemeanors or non-crimes. (An additional crime
statistic reduction strategy,

“de-policing,”
withdrawing police from embarrassing
confrontation with criminals, is beyond the scope of
this essay.)

It`s been going on for years:

  • On October 11,
    1995, reporter William K. Rashbaum, then of the New
    York Daily News,
    published a memo he`d obtained from the 50th Precinct in
    The Bronx. The memo, by precinct commander, Capt.
    Anthony Kissik, instructed officers in the art of
    defining down crimes from felonies to misdemeanors or
    even non-crimes (e.g., a felony assault would be changed
    to a misdemeanor case of “harassment.”)

  • On January 29,
    1996, Newsday`s
    Leonard Levitt reported on two rapes, one murder, and
    one fatal shooting of a car thief by a police officer
    (which was eventually counted as a homicide) from the
    previous December, none of which had been reported by
    the NYPD. The NYPD brass insisted (get this!) that a
    mysterious, unnamed reporter had stolen the crime
    reports
    . Levitt found out about the incidents from
    relatives of the victims.

  • On October 29,
    1996, Captain Louis Vega, commander of the 41st
    Precinct in the South Bronx, was suspended without pay
    in a crime statistic fraud scandal. The Daily News quoted a stationhouse
    source as

    saying
    , “in any precinct you could go in and come
    up with complaints where the charges should be higher.
    There is tremendous pressure on precinct commanders to
    produce lower numbers.”
    Captain Vega`s mistake was
    apparently in violating the first law of lying:
    Plausibility. Crime was allegedly down 14% in the South
    Bronx overall from Jan. 1 to October 20, 1996

    compared to the same period in 1995
    . But Vega
    reported a 40% crime reduction in his precinct.

  • On January 1998,
    the NYPD`s Transit Bureau was caught fudging violent
    crime stats. Bureau Chief William Donoghue was forced
    to resign. NYPD Commissioner Howard Safir, apparently
    a master of fuzzy math, insisted that the fraudulent
    underreporting of subway crime by 20 percent did not
    affect the NYPD`s overall crime statistics: "While a true portrait of citywide
    crime was being painted, a somewhat skewed picture of
    crime in the subway was being put forth."

There`s been a distinct political pattern to news
stories on the underreporting of crime. In the 1990s,
these stories were almost always published in the
far-left Newsday or centrist Democrat Daily
News
. Apparently, the neoconservative New York
Post
so closely identified with Rudolph Giuliani`s
mayoralty (1994-2001) that it could not stomach such
reporting. Conversely, the left-Democrat New York
Times
had a consuming hatred of Giuliani, but was

too lazy
for the gumshoe work.

But on February 4, 1999 Amadou Diallo, an illegal
immigrant from Guinea, Africa, was tragically gunned
down in the Soundview section of The Bronx by four white
NYPD officers from the city`s (since disbanded) elite
Street Crimes Unit. The detectives were

searching for
Isaac Jones, the worst serial rapist
in the city`s history, who lived in the

same neighborhood,
and whose predations had caused
hysteria in The Bronx. Diallo resembled the description
of Jones. But once Diallo lay dead, the frenzied demands
to bring in the rapist were forgotten.

As were the stories on fraudulent NYPD
record-keeping.

Immediately following the Diallo shooting, socialist
journalists and minority leaders joined to invent the

“racial profiling”
hoax.
They charged (and still charge)
that urban police round up and even murder innocent,
minority men, based solely on the latter`s race and
ethnicity. This hoax was a

continuation
of the war on urban white police begun
in the 1960s, which had gained new momentum with the
1991 Rodney King case in Los Angeles, and again with the
1993

New York mayoral
campaign of

the Rev. Al Sharpton.
The goal of the journalists,
who were essentially Democrat Party propagandists, was
to discredit Giuliani and, ultimately, to frustrate his
planned bid for the U.S. Senate against then-First Lady

Hillary Clinton.
Crime-fighting was central to
Giuliani`s appeal: during his two terms,

violent crime allegedly dropped 54.3 percent, while
property crime allegedly dropped 54.7 percent
per
100,000 residents.

These journalists obviously sensed that publishing
stories showing that police were underreporting crime
would contradict the “racial profiling”

hoax
. I would not see another story on
“disappeared”
crime in a New York daily until after
Giuliani had stepped down from office in January, 2002.

But two months into the administration of

liberal Democrat-turned-Republican
Michael
Bloomberg, reporter Larry Celona wrote in the

March 14, 2002 New York Post
, that a rape
that had been committed in the 50th Precinct

“was logged as a lesser
crime—thus giving a rare look into what some beat cops
say is a statistical sleight of hand used by their
commanders.

“According to many patrol
officers, commanders sometimes reclassify major crimes
like murder, assault, robbery and rape as lesser
offenses to make it appear they are winning the war on
crime….

“… the March 8 rape of a
woman at a Bailey Avenue hotel was recorded as an
`inconclusive` incident. Only on Tuesday, after The Post
started asking questions, was the crime properly
classified as rape."

(This

redefining of a rape as an “inconclusive incident”

is a speciality of the

Philadelphia PD
which for years, according to the
FBI, has conquered crime through the simple expedient of
finding victim complaints “unfounded.” The
Philadelphia PD also pioneered the method of
disappearing burglaries through redefining them as the
non-crime of “lost/stolen property.” According to a 1998
Philadelphia Inquirer report, "Among police, the
practice is called

`going down with crime.`”
)

On June 30, 2003, in  “Crime
Statistics Doubts Adding Up,”
Newsday`s
Leonard Levitt detailed the reality behind the
“reduction in crime”:

  • The punishment-by-transfer
    of an officer in The Bronx (again from the 50th
    Precinct!) who refused to downgrade a felony to a
    misdemeanor;

  • A former police
    official having to intercede on a victim`s behalf, to
    get detectives who had refused to help the victim to
    take down a crime report;

  • A Brooklyn
    precinct commander discouraging robbery victims from
    reporting crimes, by refusing to permit the uniformed
    officer at the scene from taking down a report;

  • A
    multiple-officer tag team talking victims out of
    filing crime reports;

  • Reusing the
    complaint number of a disappeared crime for a new
    case, in order to eliminate the first crime`s paper
    trail;

  • Keeping two sets
    of books for a precinct`s crime statistics.

More recently, in March 22,

Levitt and Rocco Parascandola
reported on the case
of former 50th Precinct commander Thomas DiRusso. From
2000-2003, when Deputy Inspector DiRusso was on the job,
crime allegedly fell 26%, but in the first 10 weeks
after he left the precinct in January, 2004, to head up
Brooklyn South Narcotics, crime in the “5-0″ allegedly
increased by 11.2%.

Deputy Inspector DiRusso was reportedly aggressive at
reducing crime reports. Officers told Levitt and
Parascandola, that, when restaurant deliverymen were
robbed and sought help from the precinct, DiRusso ran
them off, threatening to ticket them for riding their
bicycles on the sidewalk. His officers were also in the
habit of refusing to take down crime reports from
victims.

Rather than investigate DiRusso, the NYPD has stood
by their man.

The reality of “disappeared” crime contradicts the
managed impression that a revolution in police methods
has saved New York over the past ten or so. The
revolution has credited to two new policies: “broken
windows” policing and “COMPSTAT” (computer
statistics).

Broken windows theory, developed by George Kelling,
Catherine M. Coles, and James Q. Wilson, argues that a
crackdown on petty, “quality of life” crime (public
urination, public drinking, fare beating, etc.) will
lead to a reduction in major crime. “Broken windows”
was offered as an alternative to the socialist
propaganda model of “community policing,” in which
police were supposed to become one with those whom they
were to police, becoming live-in social workers who just
happened to carry guns.


COMPSTAT
(computer statistics—the brainchild of late
NYPD detective, crime-guru, and

TV
producer,

Jack Maple
), compiles statistics on concentrations
of crime by place, day, and time of day. Increased
deployments of officers can then rout the malefactors.

Militating against such an anti-crime offensive, are
minority leaders and counter-police, who cry
“Racism!”
at the drop of a pair of handcuffs.

COMPSTAT is a “GIGO” (“garbage
in, garbage out”
) proposition. But, as police have
for years been handcuffed by race-baiters, COMPSTAT has
routinely been compromised by false data and lack of
political will.

But police commanders are not only handcuffed in
implementing COMPSTAT by the pro-crime lobby. They are
shot in the back by their own chiefs.

COMPSTAT was initially implemented under NYPD
Commissioner William Bratton, who had previously run New
York`s independent Transit PD (which he then merged into
the NYPD), the Boston PD. Since October, 2002, Bratton

has run the Los Angeles PD.
Bratton instituted
COMPSTAT meetings at police headquarters. These became a
form of public theater in which he routinely humiliated
precinct commanders who had failed to produce the
desired “numbers.” “Bad” (read: honest) numbers
were career suicide.

Commanders quickly learned what Bratton wanted. And
they communicated that knowledge through the ranks.

William Bratton left the NYPD in January 1996, but
his model stayed. He and his associates have since
spread it across the country. (Bratton`s number two man,
John Timoney, was Philadelphia`s police commissioner
from 1998-2001.) The result is a police and street
culture, in which no one—save perhaps for

livery drivers
and

restaurant deliverymen
in poor neighborhoods—has any
idea what the true face of crime looks like. But
COMPSTAT/broken windows makes for great public
relations.

Or at least it did, until the police unions stopped
playing ball. In late March, as part of their tactic of
negotiating a new labor contract through the media, the
New York Police Department`s Patrolmen`s Benevolent
Association (PBA) and the Sergeants` Benevolent
Association (SBA) attacked the NYPD brass, charging that
the city`s miraculously low crime rate has been achieved
through—fraudulent arrest statistics.

On March 23, PBA president

Patrick J. Lynch
maintained:

"We`ve reached a point
where some local N.Y.P.D. commanders are forced to
falsify stats in order to maintain the appearance of a
continued reduction in crime …

“Some precinct commanders are cooking the books
to
make themselves look good. We`re hearing from our
members across the city that these things are
happening.”

SBA president Ed Mullins had made the same charges on
March 3 against Capt. Sheldon Howard, the commander of
Police Service Area 9, and on the 23rd, in a

joint press release and press conference
with the
PBA, “calling upon police commissioner Ray Kelly to
conduct a comprehensive citywide audit of crime and to
develop procedures that will prevent police managers
from downgrading or ignoring reported crimes.”

The unions charged the NYPD with fudging crime
reporting citywide. But they emphasized fraud in
Manhattan`s 10th Precinct, The Bronx` 50th Precinct, and
Police Service Area 10, which serves housing projects in
six Queens precincts. The NYPD admitted only to
misreporting in the 10th Precinct, dismissing the other
charges out of hand. (Last June, the brass admitted that
203 felonies had been improperly downgraded to
misdemeanors in the 10th Precinct during 2002.)

Hopefully more police unions will take the initiative
to counter the PR job done across the country by the
likes of William Bratton and his media mouthpieces.

Unlike the usual negotiating hype, and in spite of
the union bosses being in the delicate position of
saying that their members haven`t been doing the great
job for which they had long taken credit, these charges
have the virtue of being true.


Nicholas Stix [email

him] lives in New York City, which he
views from the perspective of its public
transport system, experienced in his
career as an educator. His weekly column
appears at


Men`s News Daily

and many other Web sites. He has also
written for Middle American News, the
New York

Daily News,
New York Post, Newsday,
Chronicles, Ideas on Liberty
and the
Weekly Standard. He
maintains two blogs:

A
Different Drummer
 and

Nicholas Stix, Uncensored
.