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19 Officers in NYPD's 40th Pct Face Charges for Underreporting Crime Stats

By  Eddie Small Ben Fractenberg and Murray Weiss | July 17, 2015 2:26pm | Updated on July 19, 2015 9:42pm

 Charges have been filed against 19 officers in the 40th Precinct for misreporting crime statistics, according to the NYPD.
Charges have been filed against 19 officers in the 40th Precinct for misreporting crime statistics, according to the NYPD.
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DNAinfo/Eddie Small

MOTT HAVEN — More than a dozen members of the 40th Precinct face departmental charges for underreporting crime statistics, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton announced Friday afternoon.

An audit of 1,558 of the precinct's complaint reports and a review of radio activity revealed 55 instances in which officers failed to properly process crime complaints during a four-month period in 2014, mainly in the categories of petit larceny, lost property, misdemeanor assault, criminal mischief and criminal trespassing.

Overall crime stats for the precinct have been recalculated. Instead of a 14 percent drop in crime, the number dropped to 11.4 percent, according to Bratton.

Deputy Inspector Lorenzo Johnson, the commanding officer of the precinct, has been transferred, and the officers facing charges include one lieutenant, eight sergeants, nine police officers and one detective, according to the NYPD.

The mayor, through his spokeswoman, stressed the importance of proper crime reporting and applauded the commissioner's decision.

"The only way to keep our city safe is to ensure police officers are accurately reporting criminal incidents," spokeswoman Karen Hinton said. The Mayor credits Commissioner Bratton for putting a system into place reforms that identify problems and solve them promptly. He has full confidence in the reporting and auditing procedures currently in place."

The heads of the four police unions, however, jumped to their member's defense.

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said the organization would vigorously defend the officers facing charges and criticized management for trying to keep felonies down with a small number of police.

“We agree that crime stats have to be accurate in order to know where and when to assign police resources," he said in a statement. "However, because of the serious shortage of police officers over the last decade and a half, management has consistently hammered police officers to reduce felonies to misdemeanors."

President of the Lieutenants' Benevolent Association Lou Turco accused the NYPD of trying and convicting the officers before they could defend themselves.

"When this case is tried in the department trial room, not in the public arena, I'm confident that our lieutenant will be exonerated," he said in a statement.

The NYPD's crime statistics provide the basis for where the department deploys its resources and how it comes up with its crime-fighting strategies, so their accuracy must be unquestionable, according to Bratton.

“These disciplinary charges are strict but fair,” he said in a statement. “The purposeful misrepresentation of crime data is rare but nevertheless unacceptable, and it will be dealt with accordingly."

Captains Endowment Association President Roy Richter said that the 40th Precinct had never failed an audit of its complaint report process before and praised the charged officers in a statement as "hardworking and conscientious."

Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins said that the downgrading of complaint reports has been a systemic issue in the NYPD for years and claimed that those responsible for the manipulation often just push the blame onto their subordinates.

“I’m not surprised but disappointed by the timing of Commissioner Bratton['s] press release on the one year anniversary of the death of Eric Garner," he said in a statement. "This is an obvious ploy to show the department’s efforts for reform on the backs of hard working officers."

Mychal Johnson, a longtime environmental advocate who lives in the 40th Precinct, said he was disappointed to hear that officers had been misreporting crime statistics.

"It saddens me that it happened," he said. "I think there’s a lot of pressure from One Police Plaza that kind of makes these things necessary so everyone looks like they’re doing a great job or crime is down."

Serri Johnson, a 42-year-old resident of the nearby Mitchel Houses, said she was not surprised by the investigation. She said she has called the police before when someone was harassing her, and the responding officers then threatened to arrest her.

“If you have an issue with someone, they come and bother you,” she said.

A spokeswoman for the Bronx District Attorney's office said that the matter has not been referred to them, and it appears that the NYPD will handle it internally.