Investigations

Investigation into under reported crime rates

Monday, March 26, 2012

There are disturbing claims from a police veteran that the NYPD intentionally tried to under report crime rates.

He claims, in an exclusive television interview, that in one precinct in Queens, the severities of some crimes were systematically downgraded.

Sergeant Borrelli is the latest in a growing list of police officers to claim widespread manipulation of NYPD crime data. In 2010, Officer Adrian Schoolcraft told Eyewitness News it happened all the time in the 81st Precinct.

"I recorded multiple down-grading of crimes, crime reports from citizens who were victims," Schoolcraft said.

And there was Officer Polanco from the 41st Precinct.

"An assault would be downgraded to a violation, harassment, a shooting would be downgraded to a reckless endangerment," Polanco said.

And now, Sgt. Borrelli from the 100th precinct who has given Eyewitness News, what he claims, is proof of the down-graded crime reports.

In this case, shots fired at a cab driver that's classified, not as a felony assault, but as "reckless endangerment."

Another crime report shows how an attempted strangulation "with a scarf" is classified as a "misdemeanor". The scarf or weapon is kept out of the official report which even a Quality Assurance inspector admitted in secretly taped conversation with Borrelli seemed suspicious.

"It is interesting that they left that part out of the 61 (report), why did they do that, did they believed it raised a red flag," the NYPD auditor said.

"It's not an honest mistake. It's intentional manipulation of crime statistics," Sgt. Borrelli said.

Like Officers Polanco and Schoolcraft who have been suspended, Sgt. Borrelli is now feeling the heat too.

He's been hit with minor disciplinary charges and transferred to the midnight shift at the Bronx Courthouse after a decade as a supervisor at the 100th precinct.

"This person is really quite courageous. What he reveals is symptomatic of what's going on in this police department," said Eli Silverman, a criminologist.

These two criminologists have written extensively on the down-grading of crimes by the NYPD.

"The whole dominant, driving force is to make this department look good in terms of crime control," Silverman said.

This professor and former NYPD Captain says the pressure to down-grade serious crimes is distorting the real crime picture.

"They're hurting themselves. How many officers would have been hired had the correct numbers been there? How much more money would they have gotten from other sources had the correct numbers been there. This is just hurting the public," said John Eterno, a criminologist.

The NYPD says it investigated Borrelli's allegations and found them to be "unsubstantiated".

Their own Quality Assurance audit of 925 crime reports at the 100 precinct found just 17 had been misclassified.

Sgt. Borrelli says the self-audits are more smoke and mirrors.

"You cannot have the police department, policing the police department because guess what, the police department is not going to find anything wrong," Sgt. Borrelli said.

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crime, nypd, investigations, jim hoffer
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