By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
Last Halloween, three weeks after he made allegations of misconduct in Brooklyn's 81st Precinct, Adrian Schoolcraft's career in the New York City Police Department ended in rather spectacular fashion.
On October 7, Schoolcraft had sat for three hours with an inspector, a lieutenant, and three sergeants with the Quality Assistance Division—the NYPD unit that monitors the accuracy of police reports—as they questioned him about his allegations that precinct bosses had refused to take criminal complaints and had downgraded crimes. They told him they would launch a substantial investigation.
After the meeting, Schoolcraft went about his normal work as a member of the 81st Precinct. Then, on the afternoon of October 31, he felt sick and went home about an hour early. Precinct supervisors appeared at his door hours later, claiming he had violated policy and demanding that he return to work.
FEBRUARY 20, 2009
"If We Like You, You Get a Certain Thing. If We Don't Like You, You Get a Certain Thing."
In this excerpt, Adrian Schoolcraft meets with Lieutenant Rafael Mascol, who makes a series of unguarded remarks about how the NYPD rates officers.
One of his visitors was a deputy chief, who upbraided him while sitting on the edge of his bed. On orders from that deputy chief, Schoolcraft was then thrown to the floor, handcuffed, dragged from his Queens apartment, and taken against his will to a psychiatric ward at Jamaica Hospital. His forced hospitalization lasted six days. Police officers also removed papers from his home that documented his concerns about NYPD operations. Jamaica Hospital officials charged him $7,000 for his stay—and another $86 to obtain his own medical records.
Schoolcraft has been introduced to Voice readers as the Bed-Stuy cop who secretly taped 117 roll calls at the precinct, as well as many other conversations with his fellow cops. In our series, "The NYPD Tapes," the Voice has been making these recordings public, and they show a pattern of police downgrading crimes, intimidating crime victims, and enforcing quotas for writing tickets and performing "stop-and-frisks."
Schoolcraft also had his digital recorder rolling as his superior officers threw him to the ground and hauled him off to the mental ward. Those recordings reveal that he was rational throughout the encounter, and refused medical assistance that was then forced on him.
In addition, hospital records show that the medical staff was misled by an NYPD sergeant about the events of that day, causing doctors to treat him as a psychiatric patient.
Like the previous recordings the Voice has made public, these tapes suggest that Adrian Schoolcraft is an ordinary cop who got caught on the wrong side of department politics, tried to report corruption, and paid for it with his career.
Despite repeatedly reporting what he saw as misconduct to a duty captain, a district surgeon, an NYPD psychologist, three Internal Affairs officers, and five department crime statistics auditors, nothing has come of these efforts.
The NYPD won't tell the Voice what Schoolcraft's current employment status is, but they do have the resources to continue sending officers to Schoolcraft's upstate home to bang on his door.
Schoolcraft didn't just materialize in the 81st Precinct with a digital tape recorder in his pocket. The 34-year-old registered Republican was born in Texas, the son of a Dallas cop and a bank official. After graduating from a suburban high school in 1993, he joined the U.S. Navy as a corpsman. He served his active duty in Japan on the USS Blue Ridge: "I was basically a paramedic on the ship," he says. "Guys would get their eyes poked out, get hit with stuff falling from the ceiling, fall down the stairs—broken legs, broken backs. It was dangerous work."
After four years in the Navy, Schoolcraft returned home in the summer of 1997 with an honorable discharge. He worked at a Wal-Mart for two months, and then landed a job with Motorola. After three years, he learned that his mother had cancer, and moved home to a small town in Upstate New York, where his parents had retired. He would drive his mom to her chemotherapy appointments an hour away in Albany. (She passed away in 2003.)
In 2002, he applied to be a police officer, motivated by his mother's wishes and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In 2003, the rookie cop was sent to the 75th Precinct in East New York, Brooklyn, for Operation Impact, a program that assigns young officers to high-crime areas to augment the precinct force.
The precinct commander at the time was Michael Marino, who would become Deputy Chief in Brooklyn North and have a major impact on Schoolcraft's career seven years later.
Training was limited: "We had a field training sergeant, but all he would do is sign your memo book once a day and tell you your post," Schoolcraft says.
After eight months at the 75th Precinct, Schoolcraft was assigned to the 81st Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Famed NYPD whistleblower Frank Serpico, ironically, spent the first several years of his career in the 81st Precinct. He was aided by Detective Lieutenant David Durk, who became an important figure in the Schoolcraft story in the late summer of 2009.
Over the first six years of his career, Schoolcraft worked patrol and made more than 80 arrests. Though he has an occasional beer, he doesn't keep any alcohol in his home. And at the 81st Precinct, he was puzzled about why cops would end every shift with beery night at a Queens pub: "They go to a bar and start talking about the job," he says. "That's the last thing I wanted to do. I'd rather go to putt-putt golf than sit on a fucking bar stool."