Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Action Alert: NYPD Fakes Statistics, Downgrades Rape Charges

From's Women's Rights Blog 2:41 pm / 13 December 2010
by Amie Newman
In February, journalist Debbie Nathan was sexually assaulted in a New York City park. She immediately reported the incident to the police, who took the report, but purposefully and wrongly classified the assault as a misdemeanor. It was only after Nathan protested to the Manhattan District Attorney, who did his own investigation, that the incident was reclassified as a felony. According to the Huffington Post, "the six officers who responded to Nathan's attack admitted leaving key portions of her story out of the report."
Why would they leave out key portions of her story?

An investigative report by the Village Voice uncovered nothing short of a scandal. A series of articles exposed the New York Police Department's practice of consistently "undercharging" crimes in an effort to meet "performance measurements" (quotas are illegal) and make crime statistics appear more palatable. The manipulation of statistics was caught on tapes in which NYPD higher-ups can be heard telling street cops to downgrade crimes or simply not to report particular crimes at all.

Numerous courageous police officers have come forward to tell their tales of questionable police policies, such as retired detective Harry Hernandez, who details a harrowing account of police misconduct related to serial rapist Daryl Thomas. While NYC sexual assault prevention groups say that the issue of under-reporting and undercharging of crimes has been a "growing problem" over the last two years, these "shady police policies," writes Alex DiBranco on the Women's Rights blog, had particularly devastating consequences when Thomas was able to sexually assault six different women in a single neighborhood over a period of two months. He was on his way to a seventh when a "lucky break" fueled his capture by police. The brutal spree should have triggered alarm bells, but went unnoticed for so long because the NYPD kept downgrading the assaults to "criminal trespassing."

In other words, until exposed through a series of recordings as well as an FBI report, New York City police officers had been covering up sex crimes with the full knowledge and even the direction of their superiors. In fact, it seems likely it's still happening. member Jaclyn Munson isn't willing to sit by and wait for the NYPD to take action voluntarily -- or not. She's created a petition to collectively raise our voices and demand change in the way sex crime statistics are handled by the NYPD.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. campaigned on an unfulfilled "promise" to release accurate and detailed sex crime statistics. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has is directing NYPD Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to investigate the corruption in his own department.

Do we take the Mayor, the Police Commissioner, and the DA at their words? Even while the cover-ups still seem to be occurring? It's clear that Bloomberg, Vance, and Kelly need strong encouragement to take immediate action to stop the downgrading and under-reporting of sex crimes in NYC. Honest reporting of crime statistics paints a realistic assessment of risk for women -- not false numbers and "juked stats." Join fellow member Jaclyn Munson and tell the NYPD that rape is a serious crime.

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