NYPD Officer Captured Talking about Cases Being Routinely Downgraded


On March 27, 2009, NYPD officer Adrian Schoolcraft taped a conversation with a fellow police officer in the 81st Precinct.

On the recording, the officer can be heard talking about responding to a call of a man who claimed that his car had been stolen. A precinct supervisor soon arrived, the officer said, and then asked the man whether he had been arrested before.

When the man responded that he’d done six years in prison, the supervisor replied, “Maybe karma woke up this morning and took your car.”

Over the past two weeks, the Voice has been releasing some of the recordings that Schoolcraft made over a 17-month period. Many of them show a pattern in the 81st Precinct of supervisors encouraging street cops to intimidate crime victims and convince them to file lesser charges in order to manipulate crime statistics.

In this case, the officer tells Schoolcraft that the crime victim insisted that his car was stolen. “I don’t feel right about not taking the report,” he tells Schoolcraft, even though his supervisor didn’t want a complaint taken.

On the recording, he says that his supervisor relented, saying, “Take it for unauthorized use [of a motor vehicle]. Talk to the lieutenant.”

The officer says he returned to the stationhouse with his report and showed it to the lieutenant. “I’m like, um, how do I make it ‘unauthorized use’ when he doesn’t know who took the car?” the officer says. “You can’t do it. He’s was like ‘yeah, you can’t.’ And he walks away.”

The officer goes on to tell Schoolcraft about another questionable case involving a man who claimed his Playstation was stolen after a fire in his apartment. In that instance, a supervisor insisted that the officer classify the case as a petty larceny.

“I’m like, whoever was in his apartment didn’t have permission to be in the apartment. This is burglary,” he says. “He’s like, all right, petty larceny. I wrote a fucking story this long hoping no one would read the goddamn thing because if you read the story, this is a fucking burglary. Like how do you make it not a burglary.”

The officer then tells Schoolcraft about the case of a young woman who claimed her cell-phone was robbed. The officer responded to the scene, and placed the woman in the back of his patrol car to look for the thief. A precinct supervisor pulled up.

The supervisor rolled down his window and asked the woman, “What do you want us to do here, really?”

“He’s like ‘what do you want us to do with this,'” the officer says. “She’s like ‘I want my cell phone back.’ He’s like ‘what if we can’t get it back to you.’ She’s from California. Just moved out here. He’s like ‘what do you want to do with this? Are you gonna press charges?’ She’s like ‘not really.’ He’s like ‘take her home.'”

The officer then offers his general view on the incidents. “You should be able to fucking take the major [crime complaint] and then just put down ‘won’t prosecute’ so this way it’s like the report’s not going anywhere, the detectives aren’t going to look at it, nobody’s time’s going to be wasted on it, but you know a robbery took place right there so this way if you start getting 4 or 5 of them, you’ve got a description of the guy.”

The NYPD has long said that the downgrading of crime complaints is extremely rare.
But judging from the complaints of this officer — who didn’t know that he was being recorded — it has become almost routine.

Listen to the whole recording here: