Continuing its record of stone-walling public inquiry, the NYPD is refusing to release crime statistics for the past 11 years from the scandal-tainted 81st Precinct in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.
As a result, the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit this week asking a judge to force the department to follow the state’s Freedom of Information Law. The law places “statistical or factual tabulations or data” squarely within the sorts of records that public agencies are required to make public.
The 81st Precinct was the nexus of the scandal involving Police Officer Adrian Schoolcraft, who was carted off to a psychiatric ward three weeks after making allegations that his commanders were manipulating crime statistics. Schoolcraft secretly made recordings inside the precinct, which were the centerpiece of the Voice’s award-winning “NYPD Tapes” series. The disclosures led to several internal investigations, and transfers and disciplinary action against the commander and four of his subordinates.
To its credit, the NYPD has released 11 years of so-called biannual quality assurance reports for every other precinct in the city. The reason for refusing to release the report for the 81st? The disclosure would “interfere with and hamper active and ongoing investigations by several units of the NYPD.”
What that exactly means is unclear, as the department didn’t offer any more detail. The Schoolcraft incident took place now more than two years ago, and Kelly isn’t likely to file charges against anyone else from the 81st Precinct.
One of the investigations was being performed by a three-member panel of former federal prosecutors appointed by Commissioner Kelly. That review was supposed to be complete last June. Six months later, no word on its status is emanating from One Police Plaza. One panel member, Robert Morvillo died late last month.
Kelly has insisted that the amount of crime under-reporting is minimal. But no outside entity has ever done a serious audit of the crime statistics.
Schoolcraft is suing the city, and remains suspended without pay.