The Village Voice got its hands on hundreds of hours of secretly recorded tapes made by a disgruntled police officer in Bed-Stuy’s 81st Precinct. The recordings – which will be released on the Voice’s web site in batches – offer a revealing and disturbing look inside the NYPD, where there’s a relentless push to drive crime stats down. The question, of course, will be asked: are these pressures unique to the 81st, or is what’s happening there typical of precincts citywide? Here’s how reporter Graham Rayman sets up the story:
(The tapes provide) an unprecedented portrait of what it’s like to work as a cop in this city. They reveal that precinct bosses threaten street cops if they don’t make their quotas of arrests and stop-and-frisks, but also tell them not to take certain robbery reports in order to manipulate crime statistics. The tapes also refer to command officers calling crime victims directly to intimidate them about their complaints. As a result, the tapes show, the rank-and-file NYPD street cop experiences enormous pressure in a strange catch-22: He or she is expected to maintain high “activity”—including stop-and-frisks—but, paradoxically, to record fewer actual crimes.