Monday, December 6, 2010



Our Janury 24th Op Ed in Daily News

New York Crime Statistics Published in New York Times December 3, 2010

To the Editor:

As the authors of the academic survey referred to in “As Police Point to a Dip in Crime, Murders and Robberies Are Up” (news article, Nov. 26), we applaud the article’s attempt to bring crime statistics to the forefront. Our published peer-reviewed journal articles clearly demonstrate the manipulation of crime statistics by New York Police Department.

Audiotapes made by Police Department officers document police instructions to downgrade major crimes to the lesser charge of misdemeanor crimes (which are not part of the public crime count), for the purpose of lowering official crime statistics.

According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, New York City’s misdemeanor crimes skyrocketed from 1996 to 2001 — further evidence of pushing major crimes into the misdemeanor crime category. This revelation confirms our research as well as the Police Department’s failure to report these misdemeanor crimes since 2002, the first year of Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly’s return to office.

On top of this, hospital admissions data for assaults show a trend completely at variance with the Police Department’s public data. They indicate that firearms assaults more than doubled from 1999 to 2005.

Your article says, “Without a substantial decrease in grand larcenies this year, however, the city would show an increase in overall crime.” Since grand larcenies are among the easiest crimes to downgrade to a misdemeanor, this suggests further confirmation of manipulation by the Police Department.

One way to conclusively resolve this issue is for the Police Department to allow scrutiny from outside agencies. The time is ripe for Police Department transparency.

John A. Eterno
Eli B. Silverman
Rockville Centre, N.Y., Nov. 26, 2010


Jim Hoffer ABC News Investigations

Baker and Rashbaum of New York Times

Another News Report

Graham Rayman Village Voice

Colleen Long Associated Press

Links to Recent Confirmation of Our Findings and Media Appearances

Graham Rayman article with comments by us on release of data by NYPD

Paul Moses on abrupt change and release of data by NYPD

Eli Silverman on WBAI, Monday, December 20, 2010

Eli B. Silverman and Graham Rayman on CityTalk (CUNY TV)

The Numbers Game in the The Uptowner

Further confirmation of our findings

Lack of Transparency Continues

City Violent Crime Spikes in The Wall Street Journal

Lenny Levitt's most recent column

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Truth versus Spin

Truth versus Spin: An Op-Ed on the NYPD's Crime Statistics From Two Criminologists

The NYPD, its acolytes, and assorted politicians' 15 year unyielding boasting and bellowing of the City's "miraculous crime drop" has constantly filled the air waves and newspaper print. However, since January of this year we notice reports of increases in violent crimes. The concurrent 'sounds of silence' are even more amazing than the previous bragging. Virtually every category of violent index crime is on the rise.

Murders, robberies, rapes, and felony assaults are all up. Eventually, we do expect the usual spin. The NYPD explanation will likely be something like 'crime is still down from years ago, we are still doing a wonderful job.' While these tales are to be expected from the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information and his spin doctors, the truth sadly may be far more disturbing.

The ominous side is that in order to silence dissenters and deny any problems, the NYPD continues to close its doors to any non-sponsored outside scrutiny. Yet the evidence of data manipulation is, at this point, overwhelming.

Our study showed that over half of commanders aware of any manipulation felt the manipulation of the reports was unethical; pressures to decrease index crime were much greater during the Compstat era; and the pressure to maintain integrity in crime statistics was greater in the pre-Compstat era. This study was released in early February 2010.

The NYPD and its allies' reactions were predictable. We were roundly attacked in the media (with the exception of the Village Voice and a few other outlets). Numerous editorials and the like tried to paint our study as "flawed". Since then, our study was published in a well respected scientific peer reviewed journal (International Journal of Police Science and Management). This stands in stark contrast to the non-peered reviewed writings that the NYPD relies on to support its claims of purity and integrity.

Furthermore, the subsequent evidence supporting our findings has been nothing short of overwhelming. Graham Rayman's expose on the NYPD Tapes was particularly revealing and supportive of almost every aspect of our initial study.

Police Officer Adrian Schoolcraft of the 81 Precinct secretly recorded roll calls in which, for example, one can clearly hear supervisors saying not to take crime reports for robbery if victims are not willing to go to the station house.

Such statements indicating crime manipulation were commonplace on these tapes. Further evidence unearthed by Rayman included an attempted rape victim's report being classified as "forcible touching," Detective First Grade Harold Hernandez of NYPD capturing a serial rapist and finding previous reports were not listed as rape but as criminal trespass and the like.

Yet another tape has surfaced from another precinct showing similar manipulation (see ABC News Investigations. ABC also had another officer come forward with even more allegations of crime manipulation.

Our recent research examined hospital assault data showing that emergency room visits for assault have steadily increased since 1999 (including firearms and cutting instrument assaults).

We also have examined non-index crime steadily increasing until 2001 with a slight drop in 2002 (the last year the NYPD reported its non-index crimes. The fact that the NYPD abruptly ceased to provide non index crimes is emblematic of its relentless resistance to transparency).

Our study reported that commanders' perceptions were that NYPD brass really did not care as much about crime data integrity during the Compstat era compared to the previous era. Shortly after our study was reported in February, the Captain's Endowment Association president wrote to its members: "There is inordinate media interest surrounding the Compstat process. If you are discovered to have intentionally misclassified a crime report you will be made an example of. This type of misconduct will cause permanent damage, and potentially the end of your career. Suffering through a 'bad Compstat' is a much more desirable fate." Roy T. Richter, President, CEA Newsletter Volume III, Issue 2 March 2010. P. 3.

Recent media attention combined with several lawsuits (i.e., Schoolcraft, Center for Constitutional Rights), however, may have also propped up a belated NYPD push for accuracy.

While undoubtedly the spin doctors will play their games, our take is that our research and the media attention surrounding it are hopefully making a difference. That difference is good for crime victims, crime analysts, and police officers in the field, detectives, and the entire NYPD.

Let the detectives investigate, the officers on the street take reports, let those on the front lines help victims and not turn them away (e.g. robbery, rape, victims), let the cops do their job, and, most importantly, if NYPD is so confident in its accuracy, open the books and let outsiders investigate - transparency is what democracy is all about. Those who balk are devoted to deception and cover up.

John A. Eterno, Ph.D. is Associate Dean and Director Graduate Studies in Criminal Justice at Molloy College in Rockville Center, New York. He is a retired NYPD Captain and the author of Policing within the Law and co-author of Police Practices in Global Perspective.

Eli B. Silverman, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center, CUNY. He is a well-known expert on CompStat and the author of NYPD Battles Crime.

This article appears in its entirety in the Village Voice.

Our second peer reviewed article


New York Times Confirms NYPD Lack of Transparency

Murray Weiss speaks out in support of our theme

NYPD's Oil Spill

Eterno/Silverman discuss findings with ABC news.

Schoolcraft story on This American Life

Levitt on Schoolcraft

Questions about Assault Statistics appears in New York Times

Schoolcraft on ABC News

Possible Chicago Crime Manipulation

Further Support

More Revelations

Len Levitt Responds to Daily News Editorial

Cover Up of Statistics

Charge of NYPD Commander for Fudging Stats

Article on Data Manipulation New York and Elsewhere

Officers accused of data manipulation

AP story on Schoolcraft

Cops and Al Baker discuss manipulation of stats

Tuesday, June 8, 2010



Some Important Links

Link to our peer reviewed article in the International Journal of Police Science & Management, "NYPD'S Compstat: compare statistics or compose statistics."

This article appears as an op-ed piece in the Village Voice.

Another article in Village Voice strongly buttresses our viewpoint.

The Village Voice has offered the world a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the New York City Police Department. Graham Rayman’s expose of the 81st Precinct divulged Police Officer Adrian Schoolcraft secretly recorded “in-house” conversations including many roll calls. In addition, the Voice has made selected tapes and transcripts publicly available.

Recently we had the opportunity to review many of these tapes. As social scientists we believe that these tapes, along with other information, offer the NYPD a unique anti-terrorists learning opportunity.

While we strongly value, support and respect Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and all of our men and women in blue, these tapes raise serious concerns in the fight on terrorism.

Although the recent attempted terrorist attack in Times Square has heaped deserved praise on the NYPD, the cornerstones of its success were bystanders, vendors -- Lance Orton and Duane Jackson, who both served during the Vietnam War. The police cannot possibly be everywhere; they need the assistance of everybody. They need people from every community to help – to work with them in the fight on terrorism.

How ordinary people are treated by police officers determines how citizens respond to the call for assistance. Advertisements stating “if you see something, say something” are an excellent way to advise the public on what to do. However, as with the “just say no” policy on drugs, its call is muted when it fails to address crucial social issues such as fear of police, the influence of peers, deviant subcultures, and the like. The tapes reveal a key example. The precinct turned away victims, including robbery victims who would not go down the station house to make a report. What message does this send to people? Not to report, not to approach, not to advise police!

The precinct, led by the commanding officer, did not decide on their own to simply turn away victims of crimes. Rather, commanders and precinct personnel are likely engaged in unethical activities due to the extreme pressures of headquarters’ Compstat meetings (regular meetings s where commanders are held accountable to the higher echelons of the NYPD for crime in their precincts; these meetings can become very tense for commanders). The activities recorded on these tapes have no place in policing. Even if victims do not want to prosecute, reports should be taken. Why? One important reason is intelligence gathering. It is information that can be used to fight crime and terrorism. Indeed, the first step in the four step Compstat process is “accurate and timely intelligence.” Without these crime reports, the NYPD is getting a false and incomplete reading on what is occurring on the streets.

Importantly, such reports can lead investigators to possible terrorist activity. As terrorism expert Jonathan White writes, “When a group prepares an attack, they commit about four crimes three or four months before the actual attack.” Law enforcement will be in a far better position to prevent an attack if they are taking reports of crimes. Therefore, they will have the necessary information to possibly stop a terrorist attack before it occurs. For example, terrorists might give away their activities while committing these other crimes. Given the unethical policy in this precinct of not taking reports unless the victim goes to the station house, the vital information about that suspect is lost. By refusing to take the report, police are possibly enabling the terrorists. The information is the key. Fear of increasing the number of crimes due to upper management pressure is deterring officers from taking reports and citizens from approaching police.

The connection between the community and the police is vital and needs to be respected. A police officer needs to take every complaint seriously. When this does not occur, victims feel as if they are being victimized again – this time by the police when they experience three levels of call-backs, reports not being taken, being told that they must go to the detective squad or nothing will be done.

Due to management pressures, officers seem far more concerned about crime numbers rather than people. In 2009, with over ½ a million people being listed on Stop & Frisk reports by police, one can only ponder whether such stops are targeted activities. The tapes indicate extreme pressures on officers to produce a certain “number” of Stop and Frisk reports. Since many of the stops are based on furtive movements, it seems likely that the police are simply throwing a wide net thus unnecessarily alienating law abiding citizens. In addition, a policy forcing officers to achieve targets such as getting a certain number of “C” summonses (summonses for minor violations of the law) or a quota on the number of Stop and Frisk Reports, fails to address the vital human element essential to citizen crime reporting.

For whatever reason, there are many cultural groups who do not trust the police. A simple message of “see something, say something” fails miserably. The police need to reach out, to work closely with communities, to take reports from victims, to attract people to the democratic message of equality, liberty, rights. The police are the front line of democracy. From what we see here, there is a need for change.

The NYPD is free to seize this opportunity or to continue its culture of pressure. Treating people with respect starts with NYPD’s own.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes which were, for the moment, unpopular."

Edward R Murrow

Some Important Links:

Graham Rayman's Village Voice article part 3 strongly supporting our view with more evidence.

ABC News Report -- Are NYPD Quotas Chipping Away at Public's Trust?

Former Comptroller calls for Audit of NYPD Crime Statistics

NYPD Secret Tapes Confirm Eterno/Silverman Report's Accuracy

Secret Tapes - Follow Up Article (1)

Our View on the Tapes and Terrorism

Rape Downgraded - Yet Another Example of Accuracy of Eterno/Silverman Report

NY 1 Story Newspaper Releases Secret Police Recordings

Turnaround: NYPD Comes Around on Crime Statistics
By John A. Eterno and Eli B. Silverman

In a 2000 New York Times article discussing "A Vulnerable Police Force," one of us was quoted:

"In 10, maybe 5 years, the consequences of losing so many good people are going to be felt,'' said Eli B. Silverman, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and author of ''NYPD Battles Crime,'' (Northeastern University Press, 1999). ''The consequence is that you may become far less effective as crimefighters, and the bad guys may reassume their ascendancy."

In a February 8, 2010 television interview, one of us is quoted

"There are so few officers out there because of the crime statistics indicating that there's not so much crime, and they've cut the police department to an enormous amount," Dr. Eterno said. Dr. Eterno says a shrinking department puts officers, and the public, at risk. Accurate numbers would only help New York's Finest.

Fast Forward to March 2010. After repeated forays attacking our research and arguing that they could do more with less, the NYPD has subtly shifted gears following media reports of sharp increases in crime On March 28, the Daily News reported "Spike in Killings and Shootings around the City has New Yorkers Worried."

Murders are up sharply in the city this year, with startling increases in gunplay across the five boroughs, a Daily News study of NYPD statistics shows. The citywide murder rate has increased 22.8% in the first 11 weeks of the year over the same period in 2009, from 79 homicides to 97 as of Sunday, the most recent day for which statistics are available.

Shootings in general are also up citywide, with 293 people hit by bullets this year, a 16.3% change from the total of 252 recorded by March 21 last year. (link)

And what was the response of the NYPD's chief spokesman,"The NYPD is fighting its own success," said Paul Browne, the Police Department's top spokesman.

Anyone hear an echo to what Eterno and Silverman have been repeatedly saying. And what did the Police Commissioner say the following day when the Daily News reported that the "NYPD to set up detailed questioning of prisoners to fight back against 22% increase in murders."? "Police Commissioner Kelly warned that proposed budget cuts could reduce the program's effectiveness."

This apparently is the new line as in Mayor Bloomberg's words "We have fewer police than we did before. More cops always helps." (link Mayor Bloomberg blames spike in Murders in 2010 on budget cuts that puts fewer cops on NYC streets);

Another echo anybody?

Since our research has been made public, we have repeatedly urged that the department focus on transparent and accurate crime statistics. We always felt that such revelations would provide the department with leverage to ward off additional budgetary reductions.

Now with attention surrounding this issue of accurate reporting, the NYPD seems to have adopted this strategy. The Captains Endowment Association's recent Newsletter to its membership reflects this new found emphasis on accuracy.

"There is inordinate media interest surrounding the Compstat process. If you are discovered to have intentionally misclassified a crime report you will be made an example of. This type of misconduct will cause permanent damage, and potentially the end of your career. Suffering through a 'bad Compstat' is a much more desirable fate."
Roy T. Richter, President,CEA Newsletter Volume III, Issue 2 March 2010. p, 3

When the Daily News reported that: “Crime is up 13% at the Brooklyn precinct where a whistleblower cop accused his supervisors of ignoring felonies to artificially lower the area's crime stats. Lawyers for whistleblower Officer Adrian Schoolcraft say the spike in felonies at the 81st Precinct in the first months of the year shows officials are now being more rigorous about how they classify crimes. 'It raises the question: How were they taking reports before Adrian came forward, and are they being more careful now that everyone is watching what they do?' said lawyer Kevin Mosley Are they doing things now the way they were always supposed to be done?"

There is evidence, then, to suggest that the legitimacy of crime statistics has apparently acquired a newfound respect. If the department had invested more effort to prepare the public for the consequences of depleted resources, it might not have to resort to last minute devotion to accuracy.

Current News Supporting Our Research

Citizens Crime Commission Supports Us

Baltimore suspends Comstat meetings; article cites Eterno/Silverman report and browbeating at meetings

New South Wales police accused of deflating statistics -1-

New South Wales police accused of deflating statistics -2-

NYPD's Top-Down Pressures

Majority of Lieutenants Do Not Sign Up For Promotion Examination

Another example of lack of transparency

Lack of transparency -- again

Silverman quoted re: stop & frisk and Compstat

Eli Silverman on NPR radio


NYPD Battles Crime: Innovative Strategies in Policing by Eli Silverman

Police Practices in Global Perspective edited by John Eterno and Dilip Das

Policing with the Law: A Case Study of the New York City Police Department by John Eterno

Unveiling Compstat: The Global Policing Revolution's Naked Truths by John Eterno and Eli Silverman

Monday, March 1, 2010


The NYPD, which has led the nation in producing historical and very real reductions in crime, is in a cramped statistical box, trying -and expected - to exceed unprecedented reductions while confronted by growing controversy concerning the issue of possible unethical changes in crime data.

Our previous writings explored how the Police Department's Compstat system for tracking crime contributed to the city's sharp drop in crime. We still believe that is true, and so do scores of retired police superiors we interviewed for a new study that was reported on in The Times.

But like the retired police commanders we surveyed, we also see the underside of Compstat: We found that commanders felt greater pressure to downgrade major crimes to minor crimes from 1995, (the first full year of Compstat), to 2008 than they did before Compstat was initiated. In addition, commanders perceived lesser pressure for integrity of crime data once Compstat was begun.

Unfortunately, the leadership of the Police Department willfully refuses to take seriously what the department's own retired commanders say, and has launched a public-relations offensive based on many false claims: that we are opposed to Compstat; that the retired police we surveyed, from the rank of captain and higher, were tools of their union; and that the use of an anonymous survey is tainted.

Our findings did not advocate the abandonment of this valuable crime management accountability system nor did we deny the NYPD's crucial role in the City's crime decline.

Our work does suggest, though, that the dimensions of this crime drop are open to question. The responding haze of fog generated by the Police Department's public-relations operation and reliance on non objective "studies" thwarts much-needed transparency and obscures the need for independent monitoring of NYPD crime statistics.

There is additional evidence supportive of our findings. First the press and public accounts of police misclassifying crime or discouraging crime reports dating back to 2004 and earlier are legion. Second, there are other empirical sources which support our findings. For example, one analysis compared NYPD felony assaults from 1997 to 2002 with health department recordings of assault victims. The NYPD assault victims declined every year except one for a total decrease of 24 percent. The hospital figures, on the other hand, increased every year except one for a total increase of 19 percent. The incongruity of these trends speaks to the need for additional scrutiny of NYPD data.

There are also numerous discussions of distortions in crime statistics emanating from Compstat and other Compstat-like performance management systems in such locations as Philadelphia, Atlanta, New Orleans, Broward County and elsewhere. Furthermore, this phenomenon is not unique to the United States. New York's Compstat system has been adopted in many countries abroad where similar issues arise.

In the United Kingdom, for example, an in depth analysis of performance management systems in three police forces concluded that ". . .the conflicting priorities brought about by managerial dictum and the bureaucratic rules governing the recording of crime are to 'define crime down. It leads to a manipulation of data to provide pleasing results." Another United Kingdom study referred to "repeated reports of the massaging of figures by the police."

In Australia, in 1998 the New South Wales police force developed the Operations and Crime Review (OCR) management system modeled after New York's Compstat. A 2000 evaluation by an independent consulting group found communication to be largely a one way process with little feedback to commanders, "reinforcing the culture of fear and punishment." The following year the Deputy Commissioner resigned after he announced that crime was falling when the Bureau of Crime Statistics said it was increasing.

In our survey of retired police commanders, we found major support for Compstat's fundamentals and purposes, although it was the officers' reservations about the integrity of crime data that attracted the most attention from the media. And this is as it should be, for Compstat's success is much heralded and well known, but its downside needs exposure and public discussion - not self-serving explanations and falsehoods.

John A Eterno, Ph.D. is Associate Dean and Director of Graduate Studies, Molloy College. He is a retired NYPD captain and received a Police Foundation award for his departmental research. He has published two books and numerous articles.

Eli B. Silverman, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus, John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He is the author of NYPD Battles Crime: Innovative Strategies in Policing and numerous studies of management innovations in policing.

crime statistics rise immediately after our report goes public -1-

crime statistics rise immediately after our report goes public -2-

Eli Silverman CUNY TV interview
NY Times Letter to Editor by Silverman & Eterno

NY Daily News op-ed by Eterno & Silverman

NY Times Article by Rashbaum

Michael Kennedy Ph.D., Retired Major and Organized Crime Detective, New South Wales Police Force, Australia

ABC News clip officer admits to pressures re: numbers

Article that shows more evidence supporting our findings

Yet another example - attempted rape victim case downgraded:
1. Newspaper coverage of rape
2. Another newspaper coverage of rape
3. Video coverage of rape

Article 112 Precinct Investigation

Paul Moses Village Voice Articles
1. "Corruption? It figures."
2. "These Stats are a crime."
3. "Something's Missing."

Another example of news article on manipulation