WELL Done

Giuliani might deflect this criticism by attributing it to his political opponents. But the complaint isn't coming just from liberals. On March 31, Weiss's story in the New York Post directly linked the Diallo shooting to CompStat, quoting a former police official who said, "The culture of this administration is nothing bothers them as long as crime is down." On April 7, the Times quoted the president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association pointing a finger at police brass who constantly harp on the numbers.

"What I'm really concerned about is the way [street cops are treated] by their ranking officers," said PBA president James Savage, dismissing Giuliani's plan to distribute cards instructing cops in how to be courteous. "[Cops] are under constant pressure to get more and more numbers, more summonses," said Savage. "Even though the crime rates are down, they have to maintain the same level of activity."

It's the brass who do the berating. But it's Giuliani who made stats a top priority in New York, just as he did back in the early 1980s when he was the number three man at the Justice Department. According to a must-read 1983 profile in The American Lawyer, at the same time Giuliani was persuading President Reagan to launch "narcotics task forces," he was promising more money to U.S. attorneys if they increased their "case counts." How? By making more drug and gun busts, of course.

In recent years, the press has begun to expose the drug war as a boondoggle that targets racial minorities and petty drug offenders in an effort to boost crime statistics and expand police power. (For a history of "racial profiling," the system by which highway police surreptitiously target minorities to boost their numbers, see Gary Webb's excellent article in the April issue of Esquire.) Nevertheless, most New Yorkers don't associate Giuliani with the drug war, even though 16 years ago, he was flogging U.S. attorneys to multiply their drug indictments.

And not too many New Yorkers associate the drug war with crime statistics. But in 1983, at least one man had Rudy's number: Joseph Tompkins Jr., a former deputy chief in the criminal division of the Justice Department. Tompkins complained to The American Lawyer, "The [Carter] administration spent years trying to get U.S. attorneys over the case count mentality." Pointing out that the quantity of arrests does not guarantee their quality, Tompkins said, "U.S. attorneys can easily double their cases with penny-ante gun possession and drug cases. If Giuliani ingrains this case count mentality . . . it will take a long time to undo it, and a lot of damage will be done."


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  • Three top Mother Jones editors are headed east, even as incoming editor Roger Kohn, formerly of Audubon magazine, completes his migration west. Mother Jones senior editor Kerry Lauerman has been hired as an editor at The New York Times Sunday Magazine. Meanwhile, acting editor Patti Wolter and managing editor John Cook have also quit, with their sights on the East Coast. The departures are said to be unrelated to Cohen's arrival. EKudos to Molly Moore of The Washington Post's Foreign News Service, for her ongoing coverage of the disappearance of Mario Villanueva, the former governor of Quintana Roo who authorities say is mixed up in the drug trade. Elements of the man-on-the-lam story have appeared in The New York Times, The Financial Times, and The Dallas Morning News (which was first to provide details from the testimony against Villanueva). But the Post was on the story first and continues to upstage the Times.

  • Correction: Due to an editorial error, the April 13 Press Clips column omitted a quote that came in at closing time from Vanity Fair publicist Beth Kseniak. In response to comments by Steve Brill, the editor in chief of Brill's Content, regarding an upcoming Vanity Fair article about the magazine, Kseniak said, "Steve Brill can't be serious. I can't believe the media watchdog entertains such paranoid theories about how magazines are run."
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