Former New York State Comptroller Carl McCall says an outside audit of the NYPD crime statistics is something that his successor in that office and the city comptroller should consider.
“I think that they should be made available and if the city or state comptroller wants to audit them, they should be able to,” McCall tells the Voice. “The whole concept of policing in this mayoral administration and the last was to use these kinds of statistics to deploy people and to show them the crime rate is down. There should be transparency here. We should be able to confirm these numbers are accurate.”
McCall spoke to the Voice in the wake of the “NYPD Tapes” series, which raised questions about the extent to which criminal complaints were being downgraded and police were refusing to take complaints.
McCall, during his tenure, publicized a plan to audit city agencies, including the NYPD. He planned to audit the NYPD’s “data gathering and record keeping methodology used for reporting arrests, and the internal control systems in place for recording, compiling and reporting statistical information.”
But Mayor Rudolph Giuliani refused to allow the audits to take place. That position sparked a two-year court battle that McCall ultimately won in the appellate court in 1999. In 2000, McCall’s office released a report that said that the office had compared a number of complaint reports with the crime stats, and found an error rate of less than 5 percent.
The problem with that study, say two experts on the NYPD crime statistics, Molloy College’s John Eterno and John Jay College professor Eli Silverman, was that it was very limited, and it compared reports after the fudging had already been done.
“On paper, the report looks fine,” Eterno says. “It’s comparing a misrepresentation to a misrepresentation. You have to compare it to what the victim says, to what actually happened out in the field. It would be a lot more work.”