Some Evidence of NYC Police Officers Downplaying Crimes


After New York City’s annual crime rate rose slightly in 2011, and now is running 4.4 percent ahead of last year's figure, the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg is struggling with the perception that the city is drifting back to a more violent era, reports the New York Times. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly created a panel in January 2011 to analyze the crime-reporting system, but the panel has not issued a report yet. The police department conducts regular audits of police reports to detect misclassified crimes; in 2011, the error rate was 1.5 percent. A small number of crimes the police classified as misdemeanors were eventually upgraded by prosecutors to felonies.

In the city, 102 people were convicted of felony assault, despite the police's having classified the crime as a misdemeanor. There is no conclusive evidence that police officers routinely misclassify criminal incidents, or intentionally leave out pertinent information in their paperwork in order to characterize a felony as a misdemeanor. The Times reviewed more than 100 police reports from the last four months and found a number of instances in which the police report seemed to portray a less serious account of a crime than the district attorney, or a victim, provided subsequently. An arrest report on a domestic violence case in the Bronx says a wife had been choked severely enough that she “felt herself beginning to lose consciousness.” The police classified the crime as a misdemeanor, though it appeared to qualify as a felony because of the severity of the choking.

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