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


  1. Since outsiders to particular controversies are less engaged, they can often offer rational and non partial contributions. As an outsider with a background in legal history, criminology and philosophy, the debate surrounding the research findings of Drs. Eterno and Silverman is not surprising.

    While compstat was established as a police management system aimed at the optimal decline of crime by means of accountability, it is deeply anchored in the business model of competition characteristic of the liberal market economy. The goal of crime reduction claims absolute priority regardless of incidents that may raise ethical issues. Research which suggests that there is a downside to this approach is destined to evoke a strong response from the political and police establishment who are wedded to this approach.

    The fact that the police management disagrees with the methodology and validity of the research demonstrates that the research is serious enough to be reviewed by respected social scientists and criminologists who do not have a stake in this debate. There is a greater need for transparency. Thus far the police have not shared their data with respected outsiders including the New York City Commission to Combat Police Corruption which has been rebuffed after seeking audit material.

    Dr Thomas Albert Gilly

    Director ERCES, Paris & St Petersburg Editor -in-Chief Erces Online Quarterly Journal., Director of the International Research Branch of IISCB, Bulgaria, Advisor to the Department of International Affairs of Davydov's Law and Tax Enterprise, St Petersburg, Member of the International Advisory Board of the South Asian Society of Criminology, Member of the International Editorial Board of the International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences.

  2. As Eli Silverman and John Eterno have pointed out, the suspicions of statistical manipulation of crime figures have their echoes in the United Kingdom. The ‘New Public Management’ was applied to public services in the UK from the 1980s onwards. The ethos of targets and performance measurement that went with it was both revolutionary and somewhat painful. There are clear benefits. Management becomes more effective, accountability is improved through the availability of information and identified problems are explicitly addressed. But like any innovation, problems often accompany misuse and inadequate implementation.

    Target setting was a ‘top-down’ exercise and rather crude in the early days. The expression ‘what gets measured gets done’ was the vogue expression. It has a converse ‘what does not get measured does not get done’ and other matters, if not the subject of targets, did not ‘get done’. The champions of New Public Management tended to underestimate the ingenuity of individuals to engage in statistical chicanery, particularly when contracts and careers could be at stake. Pleasing statistics make pleasing ‘sound-bites’. Accounts of fiddling became rife and sometimes amazingly clever. Minor matters that would be resolved by traditional peace keeping became the subject of reports if there was the possibility of a detected crime. In the health service, a time target was set as the maximum for patients to be admitted to a hospital ward rather than waiting in corridors and other areas. One hospital declared a corridor to be a ward and therefore met the target. One police force demonstrated an astonishing reduction in vehicle crime until it was discovered that marginal offences were reduced to non-recordable categories.

    For the police service, the way to improve ethical recording, at significant cost, was the introduction of new bureaucratic controls. New protocols and rules were introduced to reduce officer discretion in crime recording and new roles introduced to audit and ‘gate keep’ the system. Layers of audit at national and local levels have increased dramatically. The accretion in non-operational posts has been significant. There are signs that matters are maturing. Top-down targets have been reduced and there is a new emphasis on local policing to give a greater priority to neighbourhood issues. Nevertheless, British policing has changed as a consequence. Central government has assumed more powers and chief officers, once legally ‘operationally independent’, are now, to quote McLaughlin (2007) ‘operationally responsible’.

    Ref: McLaughlin E (2007) ‘The New Policing’, London, Sage

    Alan Marlow
    Visiting Professor, University of Bedfordshire
    Former Chief Superintendent of Police

  3. I strongly believe that Professor Silverman and Professor Eterno not only performed a great service for our city but also for our nation. Compstat was a brilliant idea but like so many other great ideas they need tweaking over time. The information they provided was invaluable. We need to improve Compstat and those that are offended by the constructive criticism they provided - shame on them.

    I. Michael Belitz

  4. Great job John and Eli. Keep up the good work and don't worry about how they try to bring you down. Just keep telling the truth.