Profs Stymied, Couldn’t Play NYPD Tapes from Voice Series at FBI Conference


By Michael Cohen

The FBI was denied the opportunity during a conference Friday afternoon to hear the stunning recordings of police department supervisors that are the heart of the Voice‘s NYPD Tapes series on manipulation of crime stats, abusive policing, and suppression of violent-crime reports.

The two criminologists, who as the Voice said this morning planned to support their research by playing the tapes, were instead rushed through their presentation.

They said later that they think their time was cut short because of their ongoing dispute with another professor, who has based his own review of the department on comments from the NYPD’s own “senior command staff” — whom the two professors, John Eterno and Eli Silverman, have criticized.

Despite previous assurances that the event would be open to the press, various media outlets were turned away. But a Voice reporter managed to get in.

Moderator Marilyn Rubin, who had invited professors Eterno and Silverman to present their research, urged them to hurry through it, which kept them from playing the tapes.

In a display of tension between academic researchers, Denis Smith of NYU said that Eterno and Silverman’s study was a “no-brainer” and argued that crime went down after CompStat was implemented. Smith questioned why they hadn’t referred to his own study, which asserts that CompStat is effective and accurate.

“Because of footnote two,” Eterno said. “That’s why we don’t even acknowledge your study.”

Footnote two of Smith’s study says that it was “based on conversations with senior command staff.” Eterno and Silverman say that limited scope weakens Smith’s conclusion.

They say they think their time was cut short because the disagreement with Smith threatened the calm nature of the conference.

They say the tapes would’ve brought their numbers to life. But Tim Reid of the FBI’s statistical division said the tapes would’ve fallen on deaf ears.

“It probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference,” Reid said. “Most of the people here are number pushers.”