NYPD Tapes 4: The WhistleBlower, Adrian Schoolcraft

He wanted his bosses to know about NYPD misconduct. So they put him in a mental ward

Schoolcraft became known in the precinct for rescuing more than a dozen abandoned pets from the streets of Bed-Stuy. He saved dogs that were starving, dogs with bleeding paws, and dogs left tied to fences.

Over time, he began raising substantive concerns inside the precinct. He wrote, for example, a report to the precinct commander about the constant overtime. "You had officers working 20 hours straight, day after day," he says. "To me, that was a safety issue."

Meanwhile, he started to carry a digital tape recorder, initially to record street encounters that might result in civilian complaints.

Outside Schoolcraft's upstate apartment, a cop keeps watch.
Graham Rayman
Outside Schoolcraft's upstate apartment, a cop keeps watch.


The Voice presents excerpts from "The NYPD Tapes: Inside Bed-Stuy's 81st Precinct."

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.

OCTOBER 31, 2009
"What is this, Russia?"

In this recorded excerpt from Schoolcraft's apartment, deputy chief Michael Marino demands that Schoolcraft, who'd gone home early feeling sick, return to the precinct. Schoolcraft refuses.

OCTOBER 31, 2009
"Son, You Got a Choice. What Is It Gonna Be?"

Deputy chief Marino demands that Schoolcraft go to the hospital. Schoolcraft refuses. He was then thrown to the floor, handcuffed, dragged from his Queens apartment, and taken against his will to a psychiatric ward at Jamaica Hospital.

NYPD Tapes: The Series
The NYPD Tapes Part 1
Inside Bed-Stuy's 81st Precinct
The NYPD Tapes, Part 2
Bed-Stuy street cops ordered: Turn this place into a ghost town
The NYPD Tapes, Part 3
A Detective Comes Forward About Downgraded Sexual Assaults

Follow continuing coverage of the NYPD Tapes here at our Runnin' Scared blog.

In October 2006, an ambitious captain named Steven Mauriello arrived at the precinct. Mauriello, later the precinct commander, was focused on making cops hit their productivity numbers, a philosophy that clashed with Schoolcraft's views.

"Be a cop, do your job," Mauriello is heard saying on a tape from January 27, 2009. "You got a problem with how I roll? My style? Too fucking bad."

Schoolcraft believed more in a "community" model of policing: "You pull someone over for a seat-belt violation, they have their ID, all their papers, you don't need to give them a ticket," he says. "Just 'warn and admonish.' You don't need to hammer the regular people."

He came to believe that the NYPD's obsession with statistics was driving a wedge between police officers and the community: "Why not look at the quality of the service we're providing?" he asks.

Throughout 2008 and into early 2009, Schoolcraft was assigned to a solo footpost at 120 Chauncey Street, one of the more troubled buildings in the precinct. Residents of the complex recently told the Voice that Schoolcraft was the only cop they really knew, because he actually tried to engage them in real conversations.

Increasingly, however, Schoolcraft's superiors were starting to question his dedication to the by-the-numbers program that was becoming an obsession at the NYPD.

On January 13, 2009, Schoolcraft met with Lieutenant Rafael Mascol, who told him to pick up his activity, or his shift would be changed.

On January 29, he received a poor work evaluation, which he appealed.

The following day, a flier appeared on his locker, which read, "If you don't like your job, maybe you should get another job."

Schoolcraft decided not to complain: "I could have called Internal Affairs and made a big stink, but I didn't want to take it outside the precinct," he says.

On February 20, Schoolcraft met with Mascol again, and secretly taped the conversation. On the recording, Mascol makes a series of unguarded remarks about how the NYPD rates officers.

On a ranking system of 1 to 5, Mascol says that no one ever gets a 5, or even a 4.5: "Most police officers are just basically meeting standards," he says. "They are basically doing what they're told to do. Very few police officers are actually going above and beyond the recommended minimum of accomplishment, you know?'

Mascol describes the NYPD evaluation system as a popularity contest. "Unfortunately, if we like you, you get a certain thing," he says. "If we don't like you, you get a certain thing, as opposed to what the performance standards of the—uh, you know—what the department requires. I have no time to change the entire department mind, unfortunately."

Mascol told Schoolcraft to raise his numbers. But Schoolcraft was convinced that precinct supervisors wanted him out. He had already started documenting what he saw as retaliation in his activity book.

"I was appealing the evaluation," he says. "No one was talking to me. Cops were getting flack for 'unnecessary conversation.' They are writing me up. They were building a paper trail."

On March 16, 2009, Schoolcraft left his footpost and walked into a bodega at Bainbridge Street and Reid Avenue to find a bathroom. Lieutenant Timothy Caughey arrived and wrote up Schoolcraft for not marking in his memo book that he was leaving his post. He also confiscated the memo book itself.

Schoolcraft was taken to the precinct and met with the duty captain, Theodore Lauterborn, who told him he was under "performance monitoring" because his numbers weren't high enough. At one point in the discussion, which Schoolcraft taped, Lauterborn says that Mauriello is a "fanatic" about police officers' activity.

Lauterborn also says that Caughey is making a copy of the memo book, with all his sensitive notes inside it. He also implies that Schoolcraft will be transferred if he doesn't increase his activity.

Schoolcraft promises to work harder, but says he won't fake summonses and stop-and-frisk reports the way, he claimed, others were doing to keep up with the quota demand. Lauterborn denies that such fakery is going on. Later, another officer tells Schoolcraft that a precinct sergeant was looking for a way to force him out on psychiatric grounds.

On April 3, Schoolcraft called in sick with chest pains and an upset stomach. The following day, April 4, an NYPD doctor gave him the rest of the week off.

Two days later, he visited an NYPD district surgeon and, during the examination, repeated some of his allegations about the precinct. The surgeon sent him to speak with a department psychologist, Catherine Lamstein, on April 13, 2009.

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