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If the wrong person sees this stuff coming in here, then IAB is going to be all over this place, all right?
May 6, 2010 5:45 AM   Subscribe

Two years ago, Police Officer Adrian Schoolcraft, an officer in Brooklyn's 81st Precinct, became gravely concerned about how the public was being served. To document his concerns, he began carrying around a digital sound recorder, secretly recording his colleagues and superiors. Initially he carried the recorder to protect himself from the civilian complaints that can result from street encounters. But then he began to document things happening in the precinct that bothered him. After he ran afoul of precinct politics, he recorded what he viewed as retaliation by his bosses. The Village Voice is releasing portions of the tapes in batches and is also publishing several stories to deal with the issues that the recordings present.

In this week's installment, the Voice looks at the roll calls at the Bed-Stuy precinct and the conflicting instructions given to street cops, who must look busy at all times, while actually suppressing crime reports.
posted by anotherpanacea (93 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'd love to read this when I'm not busy, but I have to wonder if there was a TV show deal somewhere in the mix.
posted by jsavimbi at 5:54 AM on May 6, 2010


jsavimbi: I'd love to read this when I'm not busy, but I have to wonder if there was a TV show deal somewhere in the mix.

This is all just an elaborate viral campaign for The Wire season 6.
posted by Kattullus at 6:01 AM on May 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


What next? Postal workers secretly recording what goes on in break room? Please. This guy has disgruntled assache written all over him, no matter where he'd work, he'd find a reason to complain that things are being done "the right way". Meaning that he's one of those people who experiences conflict when meshing fact with fiction. I've seen this condition before, even on the blue.

Also, wondering what New York says about secretly recording conversations.
posted by jsavimbi at 6:16 AM on May 6, 2010


Wow. In Boston the police have actually tried to arrest and prosecute people who were recording them in public, or in their own homes. In Massachusetts the state tried to prosecute a woman who posted a video of a police raid (and misconduct) on her website. She won her case, but according to state law recording the video itself was illegal. That's right, in MA recording the police in your own home can result in prosecution. While I was googling around I found this article about a motorcyclist who had his home raided after recording the police on his helmet cam. That was in Maryland.

Given these cases of just a few seconds of police misconduct, this cop must have known he was putting himself in a lot of legal danger doing this.
posted by delmoi at 6:17 AM on May 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


aren't being done "the right way."
posted by jsavimbi at 6:17 AM on May 6, 2010


Meaning that he's one of those people who experiences conflict when meshing fact with fiction. I've seen this condition before, even on the blue.

So you don't think pressuring crime victims not to report crimes in order to keep their stats up isn't a problem?
posted by delmoi at 6:18 AM on May 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


If testilying is a cop lying under oath on the stand so they can "make a case", I wonder if they have a name for cops lying so that crimes don't get reported/make it to court in the first place.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 6:22 AM on May 6, 2010


This guy has disgruntled assache written all over him, no matter where he'd work, he'd find a reason to complain that things are being done "the right way". Meaning that he's one of those people who experiences conflict when meshing fact with fiction. I've seen this condition before, even on the blue.

Gosh, you've presented no evidence of this at all, though. There are some actual tapes he made, with actual evidence on them. I wonder what it would look like if you addressed those, rather than make an ad hominem argument against the officer in question based on undemonstrated suppositions about his motivations?
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:33 AM on May 6, 2010 [32 favorites]


This guy has disgruntled assache written all over him, no matter where he'd work, he'd find a reason to complain that things are being done "the right way".

Wait, so is he a candidate for the rogue cop who plays by his own rules but gets results, party-line towing draconian Chief of Detectives, or scummy Internal Affairs prick?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:35 AM on May 6, 2010


What next? Postal workers secretly recording what goes on in break room? Please. This guy has disgruntled assache written all over him
posted by jsavimbi at 6:16 AM on May 6


Yeah, being an "assache" is worse than police lying on their official reports. Thanks for this insight.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:35 AM on May 6, 2010 [18 favorites]


Yeah, jsavimbi, this guy must be crazy. They should lock him up! Oh, wait! They did!

"Three weeks after his meeting with QAD investigators [wherein he detailed the way the 81st Precinct was systematically downgrading or refusing to file reports of major crimes] , on October 31, Schoolcraft felt sick and went home from work. Hours later, a dozen police supervisors came to his house and demanded that he return to work. He declined, on health grounds. Eventually, Deputy Chief Michael Marino, the commander of Patrol Borough Brooklyn North, which covers 10 precincts, ordered that Schoolcraft be dragged from his apartment in handcuffs and forcibly placed in a Queens mental ward for six days."

The other big detail here, aside from the downgrading of reported crimes and the harassment of crime victims, is that the NYPD claims that it does not have quotas, which the recorded meetings clearly show is not true. I'm interested to see what else comes to light in the rest of this series.
posted by clockwork at 6:36 AM on May 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Also, wondering what New York says about secretly recording conversations.

You could try looking it up. It is my understanding that in New York, two party consent is only required when there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:37 AM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not a lawyer but this indicates that New York is a one-party state and furthermore:
"While secret recording for criminal or tortious purposes is illegal, a secret recording is not punishable simply because it might embarrass a participant in the conversation."
posted by Skorgu at 6:41 AM on May 6, 2010


This is sickening. But not a surprise.

-
posted by General Tonic at 6:51 AM on May 6, 2010


In Boston the police have actually tried to arrest and prosecute people who were recording them in public

In my case, it was more like physical intimidation, but I had it coming for being a jackass. Sometimes policing requires getting down to the metal. It's never convenient when it happens to you. Also, record EVERYTHING when dealing with Boston's finest. And Cambridge's too.

So you don't think pressuring crime victims not to report crimes in order to keep their stats up isn't a problem?

I don't see it as such an important problem that a man would go as far as secretly recording his colleagues over an extended period of time and exposing their private conversations for the world to see. That right there is a sociopathic violation of trust, not to mention a gross over-reaction to whatever policy he ran afoul of, an item I have yet to read. I'm thinking that out secret squirrel might be a tad delusional in regards to his place in life.

I'm not saying it's right to massage the numbers, but everyone does it everywhere for many reasons and if there is a belief that low crime stats will bring about investment in the community which in turn will further lower the crime stats then so be it. You can't point to one organization in particular as being responsible for social behavior when it takes many, so of whom will not engage if they don't think their investment in the community is going to yield positive results. And sometimes that means lying about the numbers. I'm willing to bet $20 right now that somewhere in NYC the powers that be are thinking to themselves what changes, if any, this expose will bring about and how they can go back to fucking with the numbers without being caught.

Also, and saying this as a firm believer in numbers, if you're going to mess with the stats, you have to mess with all of them consistently for a long time. With as many variables in the NYPD as there are, that's not feasible. My prognosis is that they'll find some minor occurrences of statistical misbehavior that will be absorbed by the rank and file and Mr. Schoolcraft will find somewhere else to work.

In regards to the personal nature of crime reporting, I hate to say that years of being exposed to the general public in heated situations tends to shape your attitude towards the plaintiffs. In many cases, if given time to cool down, they'll see things as they were and will either change their story to a lesser degree or forget about it. There are many legitimate cases where a crime has been committed and people do need help, but there are also a lot of people out there who get angry and want the cops to intervene on their side.

I'm using way too broad a brush here and generalizing on personal experience, but I think what we have here is someone who doesn't like their job and has chosen a very strange way to deal with it.
posted by jsavimbi at 6:57 AM on May 6, 2010


I'm thinking that out secret squirrel might be a tad delusional in regards to his place in life.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:59 AM on May 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


an item I have yet to read

It's interesting how much you have to say about a piece you haven't read yet. Why, specifically, should we care what you think when you haven't bothered to RTFA?
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:00 AM on May 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


jsavimbi, less typing more sense-making pls
posted by chinston at 7:05 AM on May 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't see it as such an important problem that a man would go as far as secretly recording his colleagues over an extended period of time and exposing their private conversations for the world to see.

Yeah, sure. Cops are completely corrupt and decline to help victims of crimes in situations where it would affect their stats, down to intimidating the victims for trying to report a crime. Not a problem, right?

What a fucked-up world view you have.

Your instictive defense of the cops, without even bothering to read the article, is damned disgusting.
posted by splice at 7:11 AM on May 6, 2010 [14 favorites]


I've seen this condition before, even on the blue.

I stand by my orignal assertion.

I'm not a big fan of cops and I'm refusing to become outraged over what they do to each other, six days in the rubber room or otherwise, at least he's alive. I don't need to read every single detail of the story; it's been told before.
posted by jsavimbi at 7:12 AM on May 6, 2010


Cool then let the rest of us discuss it without giving us your uninformed, didn't RTFA opinion.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:14 AM on May 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


jsavimbi

In my case, it was more like physical intimidation, but I had it coming for being a jackass.

While I'm not denying that you were being a jackass (although I couldn't say for sure), that does NOT mean that you deserved physical intimidation. If "being a jackass" means "behaving in an overtly threatening manner", we can talk, but if it means "being kind of a dick", then no, you did NOT have it coming to you, and neither does anyone else just "acting like a jackass". We all might think they deserve a smack morally, but that doesn't mean the police get to use physical intimidation.

So you don't think pressuring crime victims not to report crimes in order to keep their stats up isn't a problem?

I don't see it as such an important problem that a man would go as far as secretly recording his colleagues over an extended period of time and exposing their private conversations for the world to see.


This is one of the places at which we disagree -- I DO think it is that important a problem. You go to the police for HELP and if they won't help what are you going to do? Also, maybe this is because I watch too much A-Team (I really do watch The A-Team pretty much constantly so it actually might have skewed my perspective), but if police are pressuring you not to commit a crime how do you know they don’t have some vested interest in it? I’m not saying every cop who doesn’t want citizens to report crimes is part of a minute criminal syndicate intent on running a small town through fear and intimidation but when police start telling people not to report crimes, you just don’t KNOW. At best, they’re failing to do their jobs and at worst they are part of the problem.

I'm not saying it's right to massage the numbers, but everyone does it everywhere for many reasons and if there is a belief that low crime stats will bring about investment in the community which in turn will further lower the crime stats then so be it.

A belief that it will work does not justify fucking around with the numbers (partially because a belief does not mean that it is true), nor does “everyone does it everywhere”. I also think this is unfair on both sides; if people are considering “investing in a community”, they have a right to know what is going on, and the citizens living and working there have a right to have attention brought to their crime problem if they have one. I don’t know why you think the problem will be solved by covering it up.

Unfortunately I’m at work so I can’t address the rest of your points and I apologize if this makes it seem like I am attacking you and then running away cackling (really not my intent, actually trying to respond to what you’ve said). Depending on how busy I am, hopefully I actually will be able to back up what I’ve said, but if not, I am sorry.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:22 AM on May 6, 2010


I'm not surprised. Perhaps I'm just jaded by my personal cop experiences or by watching a step-dad ex-cop and his cop cronies do drugs and talk bullshit half the night when I was a kid.
posted by _paegan_ at 7:24 AM on May 6, 2010


I'm a bit surprised that police officers are able to "downgrade" felonies to misdemeanors - I would have thought the DA would have control over that. I guess when the DA office is overloaded with cases, they pretty much have to rely on the police to convey the info to them directly.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 7:24 AM on May 6, 2010


I'm not saying it's right to massage the numbers, but everyone does it everywhere for many reasons and if there is a belief that low crime stats will bring about investment in the community which in turn will further lower the crime stats then so be it.

So you're saying it's right to massage the numbers, then.
posted by mhoye at 7:28 AM on May 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


[few comments removed - please go to metatalk to complain and don't call people assholes here. If you don't RTFA don't jump in here and just start derailing, it's rude.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:29 AM on May 6, 2010


Actually, Salvor Hardin, in the Criminal Justice System the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups: the police who, investigate crime, and the District Attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. (Sorry... couldn't help it.) :-)

Basically, an ADA doesn't get involved at the reporting stage, they get involved during the investigation stage or after an arrest when there's enough evidence to begin prosecuting. Police even have discretion whether to investigate.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:31 AM on May 6, 2010


jsavimbi: I'm refusing to become outraged

Speaking as someone who's been accused of being a police apologist on this site in the past...

"Refusing to become outraged" doesn't mean you have to post about it. You're doing more than refusing to become outraged, you're taking a stand about how nonoutrageous this is. And you're doing so by attacking the motives of a man whose motives you can't possibly be privy to. Your position ends up passively defending obvious corruption, and all you have to say for yourself is "I don't need to read every single detail of the story; it's been told before."

If you don't care, go have a sandwich and leave the discussion to people who do. If you care, but think we're wrong, then sack up and make your point on evidence and logic instead of unfounded ad hominem attacks.
posted by Riki tiki at 7:34 AM on May 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


the police who, investigate crime,

Damn, somebody take away my comma license.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:35 AM on May 6, 2010


jsavimbi, you're an asshole.

It would be nice if people could simply disagree with politeness and maturity. You're making it way too personal, and obviously you have a big problem with people who hold contrary opinions.

It's interesting how much you have to say about a piece you haven't read yet. Why, specifically, should we care what you think when you haven't bothered to RTFA?

I think you misread him, because your truncated quote looses context. Here's a bit more:

...not to mention a gross over-reaction to whatever policy he ran afoul of, an item I have yet to read.

It wasn't the article that he is yet to read, it's the "policy he ran afoul of." Correct me if I'm wrong, jsavimbi.

I happen to disagree with jsavimbi here, and I think his original post was a bit obnoxiously dismissive, but he wasn't dismissing any of you, he was dismissing the subject of the article. Sometimes the knee-jerking on this site gets way out of hand.
posted by Edgewise at 7:41 AM on May 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sometimes the knee-jerking on this site gets way out of hand.

And sometimes it is totally appropriate. He was dismissing the subject of the article without having read the article. How is that different from showing up in any other thread and saying "I don't know who this is and I think this is stupid?"
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:46 AM on May 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Fair game to question the man's motives, but you have to admit that at some point (depending on what is recorded), a person makes the transformation from malcontent to whistleblower, and often motives aren't the key distinction, but what is uncovered. That doesn't make a person into some kind of hero -- motives most definitely play a part in that characterization -- but the value of the information isn't necessarily reduced by the reason why we have this information.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:47 AM on May 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


AZ, did you not read what I just wrote? It looks like he did read the article, and that quote was taken out of context. I could be wrong, but it looks like you didn't even see my point. Which would reinforce my point that the knee-jerking is in full-effect.
posted by Edgewise at 7:48 AM on May 6, 2010


His first comment was "I'd love to read this when I'm not busy."

I think your knee is calling my jerk black.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:52 AM on May 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Ah, missed that. That was over 20 minutes before he actually said anything about the article, though, so it could have changed, and his later comments did sound more informed. I was responding to the part you quoted, which I still think you took out of context. Well, if he really didn't read the article, then it really is silly for him to comment at length like that, and some opprobrium is called for.

In all fairness, I didn't jerk the knee so much as jump the gun.
posted by Edgewise at 8:08 AM on May 6, 2010


I read the first article. Both pages. I did not have time to read the rest of the weekly installments in the Voice, and I decided to set it aside for later, as so I stated clearly in the English language and then subsequently reinforced in my other posts. From there we went to this being about me, which always sucks because I'm not that interesting.

Again, I think that this all makes for interesting insight but I'm clearly not taking the side of an individual who, in my belief, acted irrationally over what I can only ascertain were his idealistic concerns over policy. That does not make me an apologist for anyone.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:09 AM on May 6, 2010


Charaterizing whistle-blowing over egregious violations of a police officer's FUNDAMENTAL DUTY as "idealistic concerns and policies" IS an apologist stand, even if you don't care to classify it as such.
posted by splice at 8:19 AM on May 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


I came to say what splice just did. Those in the past who have made a choice to "act irrationally" by attempting to expose those in positions of extreme power who fail to adhere to their FUNDAMENTAL DUTY aren't the problem. It's the people who look the other way and maintain the status quo that are the problem.
posted by mbatch at 8:24 AM on May 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm clearly not taking the side of an individual who, in my belief, acted irrationally over what I can only ascertain were his idealistic concerns over policy.

You know you can question this guy's motives while also acknowledging the corruption he revealed, right? It's not either-or?

You're continuing using a passive voice... you are not taking a side, you are not an apologist. So I have to reiterate, if you have no investment or position on this issue other than "I have no investment or position on this issue" then why do you continue posting?

I know you're taking it personally now (and I don't blame you given the deleted comments attacking you personally), but you're really the only voice in the thread representing any kind of antipathy or apathy towards the idea that this has revealed police corruption, and you're frustrating a lot of people with your refusal to explain why that is.

Maybe you think questioning Schoolcraft's motives is enough to make that point, but it's not. You don't know his motives, and even if they were as bad as you say it would change nothing about the things he's discovered. Once again: you can find fault in both parties here if you want.
posted by Riki tiki at 8:26 AM on May 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I read the first article.

Now that I think about it, that isn't even the real issue. Like Peter, you have impugned the man three times. The first, without having read the article, was to suggest some gross ulterior motive ("I have to wonder if there was a TV show deal somewhere in the mix"); the second, without having researched, was to imply he had broken the law himself ("wondering what New York says about secretly recording conversations.") Finally, presumably having read the piece, your suggestion is that he has some sort of emotional problem that is motivating this ("That right there is a sociopathic violation of trust,"). None of it supported with evidence, except your supposedly practiced eye at spotting sociopathology, which I don't trust, because I don't know you from Adam. Or Peter.

None of this cricket, for one simple reason: None of it can be argued for or against, because it is not rooted in evidence. It dismisses the story based on unsupported suppositions, and forces us to disprove the suppositions, equally without proof, before we can get back to the subject at hand.

Which is why I asked, early on, if we cold address the actual charges against his fellow cops, based on the actual evidence. It's the only conversation we can have that doesn't exist in whatever we can dream up.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:30 AM on May 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


"I wanted to become a police officer, chase the bad guys, and I thought the NYPD was the best police department in the world," Schoolcraft said.

If that's not idealistically delusional, then it's a lie. Take your pick, but if he's going to go black and white in a gray world, he may end up somewhat disappointed. Granted, it's Daily News quoting him, but still. Again, I have no idea why this guy would go to the extent and take the risks that he did just because he doesn't agree with the way paperwork is being handled.

I think it's important to consider what he's talking about when taken into context with crime drop in NYC over the past 15 years. I'm willing to listen to any theory, but in this case I don't believe that the bad guys were simply policed up and decided to go straight. I remember the NYC of the 80's; all of those guys didn't simply move away, die, become incarcerated or join the police. My theory is that the city worked in conjunction with the development community and created safe areas within the city from which to expand geographically and eventually make it unprofitable for criminal activity therein. Strategic gentrification, with all parties on board, and I wouldn't surprise me that crime stats surpression is part of the plan if it presents a problem. And if that theory is true, I can't imagine there'll be a lot of complaining.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:44 AM on May 6, 2010


Are you going to keep moving goalposts and changing the subject for the entire thread? You have not addressed anything anyone's said except for now claiming that you read the article, which I think, frankly, is a lie. I think you decided to skim the article after everyone pointed out that you clearly hadn't read it. Your first three comments could have only been written by someone who either hadn't read it or who had dangerously poor reading comprehension. A movie deal, really?

The reason the thread became about you is because you knowingly chose to make it that way by posting uninformed nonsense and insane hypotheticals (was the recording illegal????) that you made up as you went along.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:54 AM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


crime reports and the legal recourse they offer = just paperwork.
decrease in crime over 15 years = no police corruption
lying about the number of crimes committed = strategic gentrification
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:56 AM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is a really interesting find. Why are we not talking about it? I think the post is more interesting than jsavimbi.
posted by litleozy at 9:43 AM on May 6, 2010


Are you going to keep moving goalposts and changing the subject for the entire thread?

The subject? Guy records conversations at work, hopes for positive outcome when he releases said conversations to the media. MeFites disagree; some accused of being uninformed, others resort to foul language. I'm sorry, but what outcome, if any, would you like to see played out here? It's not that I'm disagreeing with you to disagree. Notice how I'm not taking such issue with your arguments.

I'm questioning the guy's motives based on my belief that no sane individual would spend the better part of a year secretly recording the conversations of their managers and coworkers unless they had either a very deep-seated issue with someone or was on an information-gathering expedition with no clear timeline or motive. Concerns over policy don't justify exposing yourself to inherent risk when all of your coworkers carry weapons, are known to be fiercely loyal, violent and suspicious of outsiders and whose bosses can have you committed to a fucking mental institution when you don't do as you're told. Me? I walk in those circumstances.

All of that for what? A change in policy? I'm not sold on Mr. Schoolcraft's story.

Also, I'd like to know if he was only recording his conversations at work or does he have more content to share.
posted by jsavimbi at 9:58 AM on May 6, 2010


In my experience, these digital recorders are somehwat common among beat cops who deal with the general public under the oversight of a civilian complaint review process. It allows them to get past unsubstantiated charges in various he-said-she-said encounters. Usually, the microphone is clearly visible on the officer's lapel.

Which just raises the question: why hasn't. This sortof thing happened much more often in the era of ubiquitous recording equipment? I'd suggest it's partial evidence of the underlying goodness and general uncorrupted nature of modern policing. That said, it's not clear how much more severe the taped evidence may be. If I were the Village Voice I wouldn't lead with the most excessive complaints, I'd start with a softball to see who gets rattled. Thus: quotas and downgraded criminal complaints. That's a serious scoop, and it rises pretty far up the chain of command, but it's not really particularly sexy.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:18 AM on May 6, 2010


I'm questioning the guy's motives based on...

I'm with you, jsavimbi . I think it's deeply weird.

But then, I ask: so what? What difference do his motives make? Even if for the sake of argument we assume he did it for terrible, or psychotic motives, the tapes exist. And the evidence they show is utterly independent of his reasons for making them, or of any testimony or opinion he may offer. Why are we talking about him or his motives at all?
posted by tyllwin at 10:25 AM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


If there's one thing that has been proven over and over, it's that the more concrete the evidence against police, the more irrational the apologists. Doesn't matter if the cops shoot someone unarmed and in the back, taser a pregnant woman, whatever. At some point, we're going to come across evidence of an officer eating babies and the apologists will say, "How do we know those babies weren't going to BECOME criminals?"

Even with all this evidence, the question is whether anything will change? I mean, the fact is that it takes an entire organizational culture to allow this stuff to happen- after a point, you're not talking about "a few bad apples" - you're talking about shades of culpability, aiding, abetting, and assenting to these things.

At the end of the day, the apologists are just an extension of that. They've drawn a dividing line between themselves and "You People", where their rights matter, and everyone else's doesn't. "I don't see a problem with the system as long as it doesn't hurt mine" is the opposite of justice.

We shouldn't really waste time arguing with these people anymore than we seriously argue with Flat Earth proponents - this is a group that does not care about evidence or logic, and no real sensible discussion can happen.
posted by yeloson at 10:27 AM on May 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sure, Nixon was a great big criminal who used the power of his office to shield himself from prosecution, but the guys who found that out were glory-hounding reporters who just wanted to make money and sell papers! Fuck those guys!
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:40 AM on May 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


This whole jsavimbi thing sounds like the tack defense attorneys take when they have an obviously guilty party: let's just let the facts and issues marinate over there while we distract everyone by asking Det. Furman if he ever used the n-word....

Or the rape victim why she was wearing a halter top....

Or my son, when I caught him smoking in the basement... 'Why would you be sneaking around the basement at this time of day, dad, you never come down here? You're just trying to catch me, aren't you?''


See, if you think someone is doing something wrong, then trying to catch them at it isn't really all that incomprehensible. You would have fired Serpico, wouldn't you? Causing all that trouble. The nerve of that guy.

And I don't know about you, bu the idea that there is at least ONE cop who actually wants to help people and uphold the law is soothing to me. My reaction is not to dismiss him as a foolish, agenda-laden idiot, but to wish the rest of the police felt that way. Cause I personally don't think most of them do. Not past the first three weeks, anyway.

Also, on preview, yeloson, ugo, grrrrl. Or guy....
posted by umberto at 10:49 AM on May 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Your position ends up passively defending obvious corruption, and all you have to say for yourself is "I don't need to read every single detail of the story; it's been told before."

This. Textbook trolling.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:53 AM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


See, if you think someone is doing something wrong, then trying to catch them at it isn't really all that incomprehensible.

Well look, I'll play devil's advocate on that one. Many privacy and security restrictions prevent the basic steps of a would-be whistleblower from square one: copying documents, retaining documents, etc.. What you end up with in many whistleblower regimes is a system that forces the would-be whistleblower to gamble on whether or not he or she will unearth sufficient evidence of wrongdoing to exonerate him/herself in bringing the evidence to light. Otherwise, standard prosecution or civil suit is in order, because we won't reward a person for breaking those kinds of important restrictions for something amounting to a petty grievance or minor infringement of standards. It's a difficult spot to put people in, but on reflection, it's hard to do otherwise. So there's the gamble: you start copying documents/recording conversations, etc, you may find yourself one day either patted on the back for your efforts, or at the business end of the justice system. They often don't know going in what result they're going to get.

All that being said, sure, maybe this guy went into this for the wrong reasons. And if the story he tells amounted to "Sarge made a racist joke in the lunchroom", we'd call the guy a crank not a whistleblower. The stories he actually has to tell, however, make his motives largely irrelevant, unless the conversation is about what to do with him. Which I think it mostly isn't, or shouldn't be.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:02 AM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


yeloson: We shouldn't really waste time arguing with these people anymore than we seriously argue with Flat Earth proponents - this is a group that does not care about evidence or logic, and no real sensible discussion can happen.

And here's where I may blow any goodwill I earned by arguing against jsavimbi above.

There are definitely police apologists who match your description, just as there are those who can only be convinced of police brutality and never convinced otherwise. I have seen both on MetaFilter.

Here's my anecdote: I made a case that standards for police abuse do not map exactly onto standards for assault, and I was called an idiot. Later, I was told I hadn't watched a video that I had in fact described on a second-by-second basis earlier in the thread... I had put forth a rational argument about what the video showed, not to assert that abuse hadn't happened, but to point out that the evidence was as inconclusive as it was dramatic.

I made that case in good faith and received little but derision for my trouble. Maybe I'm the equivalent of a Flat-Earther and don't even realize it, but I feel eager to be convinced that I'm wrong -- which doesn't really fit the profile.

Thing is, I have to actually be convinced, using reasonable evidence and logic instead of just replacing my faulty assumptions with someone else's. That's where I feel like we go off the rails here. Not all those who defend the police are apologists. Many care about evidence and logic but see those things through a different lens than you do (and you do have one).

Some people can't be met halfway for a respectable discussion, but many can and you do no one any favors lumping the two groups together.
posted by Riki tiki at 11:19 AM on May 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know what, I'm sorry I contributed to this derail (which has now captured the majority of the thread). Can a mod nuke 3/4 of this, or can we actually discuss the content of the allegations/recordings?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:20 AM on May 6, 2010


can we actually discuss the content of the allegations/recordings?

We can already do that, but what is there to say? As I pointed out above, there's not really a lot of point-counterpoint to be had here. Pretty much everyone agrees that the tapes are showing corrupt if unsurprising behavior.

The only person who disagreed with that on its merits was jsavimbi, who in the midst of his apathy attack made a reasonable point about how manipulation of crime statistics may actually reduce crime by bringing in developers that improve the neighborhood. I don't know if I agree with that logic and I definitely don't feel the ends justify the means when it comes to police services (which I feel should be on-the-level and not do any kind of secret social engineering), but it was a reasonable point whether I agree with it or not.

Meanwhile, the derail wasn't about jsavimbi as a person (with the exception of the now-deleted comments calling him an asshole and whatnot). It was mostly about his view of the post in question and whether we should accept its revelations at face value. Hardly MeTa-material, in my opinion... I think it's actually a legitimate in-thread discussion if not a particularly productive one on its own merits.
posted by Riki tiki at 11:37 AM on May 6, 2010


Or the rape victim why she was wearing a halter top....

Every time you write something like that, Jessamyn gets heartburn.

But then, I ask: so what? What difference do his motives make?

I think it weighs heavily on how people are going to view the issue, wether that be the exposure of police corruption via whistleblower, a workplace dispute or some guy seriously looking for attention. The way the story is crafted will influence any potential litigation or policy changes.

I'm not going with whistleblower on this one. He may have thought he was doing the world a favor, but the length of time that he dedicated to this endeavor in comparison with the results obtained just don't match up. The opus is way to big for the result, suggesting a different, logic-defying motive.

After eleven months, he has nothing, decides to see what he can get for it, causes great concern to those around him and they react accordingly. I've seen what people can do when they find out you have a file on them, never mind eleven months of voice recordings. I'm surprised they didn't burn him out of that apartment. But they didn't, instead they sent him in for an eval. Cruel and draconian if you hate psych wards, but they probably needed to search his apartment without him being there. Just to be safe.

That's not an apology, that's a description of the events.

The fact that he's walking around selling his story now suggests that he either has nothing of value or the city doesn't care. Serpico, Condor or shithead; he's a little player in a big deal who decided to make one argument his own, went to extraordinary lengths to justify his gripe with the system but now has nothing to show for it.
posted by jsavimbi at 11:49 AM on May 6, 2010


Every time you write something like that, Jessamyn gets heartburn.

I'm going to trust that Jessamyn can speak for herself on those questions, and am not sure she needs you to speak for her.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:01 PM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have heartburn for other reasons today.
posted by jessamyn at 12:06 PM on May 6, 2010


he's a little player in a big deal who decided to make one argument his own, went to extraordinary lengths to justify his gripe with the system but now has nothing to show for it.

It sounds like you just perfectly described your own participation in this thread.
posted by darkstar at 12:09 PM on May 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


The fact that he's walking around selling his story now suggests that he either has nothing of value or the city doesn't care.

Man, I thought I had little faith in our system. You seem to casually suggest (and accept as tolerable) the notion that the police --on top of the stuff they are already accused of-- would further violate someone's rights and only free them to 'walk around' if their accusations against the police were demonstrably wrong. That the police --if they really HAD done something wrong-- would use the 'throw away the key' approach to get rid of their accusers.

Maybe that would happen in the real world; but that would really up the ante of the wrongheaded shittiness of the PD. And make them even less defensible. So, you're saying the police can't be as crappy and illegal as this guy says, because the sensible reaction of the police to such a situation would be to be even MORE crappy and illegal. I'm not sure your defense actually makes the police look any better.
posted by umberto at 12:14 PM on May 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


jsavimbi: “I'm not going with whistleblower on this one. He may have thought he was doing the world a favor, but the length of time that he dedicated to this endeavor in comparison with the results obtained just don't match up. The opus is way to big for the result, suggesting a different, logic-defying motive.”

Look, honestly, I don't know how much of this stuff you've read by now, but I think you're really getting the wrong impression of it.

The tone of the articles, and the allegations of the guy who recorded the conversations, is emphatically not "oh look, this is how NYC cops are, they're corrupt." The articles deal specifically and directly with one particular precinct - the 81st, Bedford-Stuyvesant - and that precinct only. Moreover, the authors go out of their way to point out that the behavior described is apparently something that happens only in that precinct. Active and retired cops from other precincts are quoted throughout, often as being a little shocked at the way things are done in the 81st.

Most of all, I was impressed by these articles because they're clearly not a "fuck tha police" screed. They're not about widespread police corruption. What they describe can hardly be called corruption, in fact; it's really just mismanagement, and a broad mishandling of the reporting of crimes. I was impressed moreover because the Village Voice was careful to draw out the perspective of cops on the beat, and to point out that in this case of mismanagement, the people most hurt are the rank and file cops on the streets who are just trying to do their jobs. The story is about that honest effort being hamstrung from above by a bureaucracy obsessed with numbers.

In other words, it's a pro-cop story. I really think you should give it another look.
posted by koeselitz at 12:17 PM on May 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


I am very, very glad that jsvambi isn't a cop in my town.

Regardless of Schoolcraft's own issues, this was something that absolutely deserved to be exposed.

Seconding what koeselitz says above. This story isn't anti-cop at all, just anti-management... and founded on an awful lot of actual evidence rather than just knee-jerk opinionating.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:41 PM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


In other words, it's a pro-cop story.

No, it's a tragedy. A man spent eleven months secretly recording conversations with his fellow officers and supervisors plus six days locked up against his will in a psych ward and I'd like to know why. Out of curiosity.

If there was so much more to the case as some contend, that would've drowned my comments out long ago.
posted by jsavimbi at 12:50 PM on May 6, 2010


Some on topic commentary from the article:
"These tapes are an independent source of data that supports just about everything we found," Eterno said, speaking for both professors. "You're seeing relentless pressure, questionable activities, unethical manipulation of statistics. We've lost the understanding that policing is not just about crime numbers, it's about service. And they don't feel like they're on the same team. They are fighting each other. It's, 'How do I get through this tour, making a number, without rocking the boat?' "

[...]

In the next "NYPD Tapes" article, the Voice will examine the effects of these behaviors on the community—particularly the campaign by the precinct commander to "clear" corners and buildings in the precinct, as well as staffing shortages, why stop-and-frisk numbers have skyrocketed, and how training requirements were fudged.

And, in another installment, we'll look at what happened to the whistleblower himself, Schoolcraft, when he dared to question what was going on around him.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:14 PM on May 6, 2010


Apologists for the police scare me more than the thugs themselves.
posted by maxwelton at 1:17 PM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


A man spent eleven months secretly recording conversations with his fellow officers and supervisors plus six days locked up against his will in a psych ward and I'd like to know why.

Because they were doing something wrong and he's a policeman? This is the thing: you seem to refuse to admit that anything was being done wrong. If you did, then the question of why an official member of law enforcement, sworn to uphold the law and protect its citizenry against crime and malfeasance --even crime perpetrated by its own guardians-- would seem a little academic.

You seem to find a policeman wishing to do his actual duty, instead of his sham, numbers-quota duty, a mystery. I cannot perceive, exactly, what is so mysterious about this. You also seem to regard the officials clanging down the hammer on him and treating him like a maniac in order to subsume the points he was making as somehow impugning the evidence he acquired. Even though others seem to find that the evidence has merit. I hope you are not a policeman. If you are, then take this as explanation of why half of the country distrusts anything done in the name of law enforcement.
posted by umberto at 1:56 PM on May 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Umberto, you seem to be misunderstanding me. It's not that I'm refusing to admit that anything being done was wrong, a question which a judge/prosecution/jury will provide an answer to in a court of law, what I'm refusing to do is to care about what Mr. Schoolcraft has uncovered and what the Voice is publishing.

I'm showing apathy towards his results and last time I checked, there is no Good Samaritan law in regards to what you read via online publications. Also, judging by the content of this thread, there isn't much of a hue and cry from anyone else over his results, either. Interesting for cop groupies, no doubt, but meatless for anyone else. The NYPD has set the bar pretty high on what'll bring out the outrage these days.

His actual duty, as I understand it, was to follow the orders as relayed to him by his superiors. I have not been to any type of law enforcement academy or schooling, rest assured, but if my experience serves me right, I sincerely doubt that his actual duty, as interpreted by anyone with common sense, would include anything along the lines of initializing a covert, open-ended information-gathering expedition should he disagree with policy.

The guy was recording his coworkers until he either got bored or thought he had good evidence of wrongdoing.

What prompted him to do that? You say he was trying to do his job, I say he was pretending to be an undercover cop who happened upon a web of corruption leading up to, well, wherever his imagination might have led him. Or maybe he was bored and was angling for a more interesting job in the department and was just trying to prove himself or had ideas about a screenplay that never materialized once the job proved to be mundane and boring.

Is there something there? Yeah, nobody has ever sent six managers to my house when I called-in sick. But then again, we don't know what happened to his state of mind between the interview with the QAD guys and him refusing to return to work. QA ratted him out, something escalated and paranoia runs deep with these people. As I stated before, I think they locked him up in the psych ward so that they could search his house while the docs searched his brain. Neither one found anything of value and now he's left playing with his tapes and surveillance gear.

Seriously though, I think the guy was just sick of his job and needed an excuse to take a break. Some people, like me, just give their notice and move on, others need more. It's a sad story.
posted by jsavimbi at 2:35 PM on May 6, 2010


His actual duty, as I understand it, was to follow the orders as relayed to him by his superiors. I have not been to any type of law enforcement academy or schooling, rest assured, but if my experience serves me right, I sincerely doubt that his actual duty, as interpreted by anyone with common sense, would include anything along the lines of initializing a covert, open-ended information-gathering expedition should he disagree with policy.

That wasn't his duty as a cop. It was his duty as a human being.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:41 PM on May 6, 2010


His actual duty, as I understand it, was to follow the orders as relayed to him by his superiors.

As I understand it, his duty is to protect and serve and serve the public, the law, and the constitution of his state and country.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:49 PM on May 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


"You want to draw penises, draw them in your own memo book..."

Sound advice.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:52 PM on May 6, 2010


jsavimbi: “The guy was recording his coworkers until he either got bored or thought he had good evidence of wrongdoing.”

You clearly haven't read the article. You think he ratted out his co-workers; whereas he did no such thing. Nothing on the tapes indicates that any beat cop did anything wrong; they were following orders given to them by the people mismanaging the department. And what you seem to have missed most of all is that cops from other precincts, and cops from the same precinct who have retired, are standing behind him, because they think he's right: the precinct is being managed badly. This is not how other cops think things should run.

Honestly, it's easy to tell that you haven't had any police training, and aren't familiar with how police departments work. It's not a good ol' boys club. They're just guys doing their jobs. They can be mismanaged just like anybody else. And, believe it or not, they like it when somebody calls out the mismanagement and tries to put a stop to it. In fact, one of the major points of the article was the fact that the current management does everything it can to hush up any troubles and keep scrutiny off them; but to all the guys who are just trying to do their jobs (report robberies properly, etc) this only makes the job harder to do.

Look, I've never been a police officer either, but I've know a few, and if the guys who work for the 81st are anything like the cops I've known, a lot of them are breathing a sigh of relief right now. By and large, cops don't want to be slaves to numbers, to let crimes slip through the cracks because of pressure from above, etc. So he recorded them covertly - that's perfectly legal in NY, and all of them know it. It's something they walk into their jobs every day prepared for. It shouldn't come as a shock. And since most of them came off as pretty good guys, I have an idea that they're not feeling quite as betrayed as you seem to think they are.
posted by koeselitz at 3:10 PM on May 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


As I understand it, his duty is to protect and serve and serve the public, the law, and the constitution of his state and country.

Arrests made by Officer Schoolcraft in relation to this case: zero.

Eleven months at the head of an investigation that yielded zero arrests and some manufactured outrage on Metafilter. I'm going to go ahead and insinuate that our friend Schooley is um, well, he's incompetent.
posted by jsavimbi at 3:21 PM on May 6, 2010


What outrage? Most people are saying this is an example of mismanagement.

If I demanded arrests for mismanagement, pretty much every boss I have had would be in the gray bar hotel right now.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:26 PM on May 6, 2010


jsavimbi, go ahead and step back a second and read the article, and then reread your comments, and re-evaluate your line of argument.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:37 PM on May 6, 2010


Honestly, it's easy to tell that you haven't had any police training, and aren't familiar with how police departments work.

Thank you.

I have an idea that they're not feeling quite as betrayed as you seem to think they are.

Fair enough, you've argued well and aside from some idealistic naiveté, you make some good points. Since I'm done for the day, I'm going to take a poll this evening and find out how many people would feel betrayed if a coworker recorded all of their conversations without their knowledge.

One question though, if his job and home are in NYC and all these cops are standing behind him and he's really done nothing other than point out the mismanagement at the one-eight, then why is Mr. Schoolcraft hiding up in "Albany"?
posted by jsavimbi at 3:53 PM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


It was his duty as a human being.

So when your boss tells you to do something that you don't agree with, you go on an eleven-month (insert type of activity here) campaign to do something about it. Because it's your duty as a human. Yup, that's rational.

Disgruntled man gets back at his bosses. I said this right from the get go, and I'm not changing my mind. I've read these stories before, and I will continue to read them again in the future. They've peed in coffee pots, poisoned aspirin, shot quite a lot of people, graffiti'd the lounge, embezzled funds, sabotaged the fax machine, etc. and now we add "conducted a year-long, covert, hidden microphone campaign that proved that the man can be fucked with after all." Hoo-ray for Adrian.
posted by jsavimbi at 4:05 PM on May 6, 2010


I get it, jsavimbi operates at stage 1 of Kohlberg's moral stages, Obedience and Punishment Orientation

jsavimbi can not understand that Schoolcraft may be operating at anything higher than stage 2, Individualism and Exchange, which anyways would seem worse than stage 1 for anyone at stage 1.

We would like all police officers to operate at stage 5 at least, Social Contract and Individual Rights, and think maybe that is what Schoolcraft did.
posted by dirty lies at 4:26 PM on May 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Two suggestions...

jsavimbi: Take a break. You've made your position clear, now please step away from the thread and let it develop without you.

Everybody else: comment on something other than jsavimbi.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:43 PM on May 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Good effort in the Kohlberg reference, but I'd argue that Schoolcraft is operating at level 2: he wore, kept and sold his stained blue dress. Also never use "maybe" when shooting multiple diagnosis. It makes you look like you're unsure, even though Schoolcraft has presented a lot more evidence than I.

In one of my previous comments I theorized that management was supressing crime stats in order to encourage the greater good through cyclical, mutually-supportive financial investment and community involvement. My moral compass may have a dodgy needle at times, but give me a break.

This thread has been around all day. No interest, perhaps?
posted by jsavimbi at 5:24 PM on May 6, 2010


I don't see it [pressuring crime victims not to report] as such an important problem that a man would go as far as secretly recording his colleagues over an extended period of time and exposing their private conversations for the world to see.
So you think it's bad to violate someone's trust in order to expose their violation of the public trust? Odd.
That right there is a sociopathic violation of trust
You have a very bizarre mindset.
So when your boss tells you to do something that you don't agree with, you go on an eleven-month (insert type of activity here) campaign to do something about it. Because it's your duty as a human. Yup, that's rational.
Yeah, it kind of is. Why not? You seem to have a very authoritarian mindset, believing that we should take whatever shit we're given from those above and not fight back. It's very Confucian/Daoist.

---

Obviously cop apologists will apologize for cops. But in this case, this was cop v. cop. So of course the police apologists side with the corrupt cops against the one trying to surface the corruption. Informative.

Also, he derails thread.
posted by delmoi at 5:47 PM on May 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


The price of freedom is an eternal assache.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:50 PM on May 6, 2010


So you think it's bad to violate someone's trust in order to expose their violation of the public trust? Odd.

No, I think it's wrong to go around wiretapping people in case they say something that could be used against them in the future. Without cause or a warrant he spied on his friends. His duty was to report it, not catalogue it for reasons known only to him. If you have no problem with people doing that to you then you haven't lived long enough.
posted by jsavimbi at 6:15 PM on May 6, 2010


Let's get back to the core subject here. It appears that crime statistics are wholly unreliable. Am I now to think that much of the Guilliani vauted NYC cleanup of the 1990s was simply the result of local districts supresssing the numbers to produce demanded results. The freakonomis guys and Gladwell both had it totally wrong. Broken windows and abortions had nothing to do with it, there was simply the fact of reporting fewer crimes made people feel safer.
posted by humanfont at 7:53 PM on May 6, 2010


An Alternate Layer Cake

Eddie Temple:
Is that you, the flash runt who thinks he's retiring?
You'd no idea what Jimmy was up to?
How do you think these fuckers earn a living?

I would've thought a smart young man like you would know that already.

XXXX:
Where did you get this?

Eddie Temple:
Mr. Troop made it for me.

XXXX:
You mean, you just recorded him, unawares? That's just not on.

Eddie Temple:
...

XXXX:
You don't just go recording people without their knowledge, do you?
Look, let's just pretend I never heard this and call it a day.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:09 PM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


What is this? A vicar's tea party?
posted by jsavimbi at 9:27 PM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


You do sometimes take your conversations away with you.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:29 PM on May 6, 2010


This guy is a great example of what good cops can be like. Big ups brooklyn.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:19 AM on May 7, 2010


Part 2 of the Village Voice's coverage is up.
posted by clockwork at 5:20 AM on May 12, 2010


On June 12, 2008, a sergeant tells the precinct's officers to make the arrests even if they have to cancel the charges at the end of their shift. "Guy's on the corner? You gotta leave. Bounce. Get lost," he says. "You'll void it later on in the night so you'll all go home on time."

On July 1, 2008, a sergeant tells his cops: "Be an asshole. They gonna do something, shine a light in their face. Inconvenience them. It saves trouble later on. Some of you with good activity are going to be moving up."
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:13 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Interestingly, the Toronto Police just recently announced that all of their officers will be wearing microphones.
posted by antifuse at 10:17 AM on May 13, 2010


All front-line police, any way.
posted by antifuse at 10:18 AM on May 13, 2010


This is the natural progression of two related policing trends in New York: Broken Windows, which posits that cracking down on petty crime leads to a reduction in more serious crime, and COMPSTAT, a data-driven method of policing. There's debate over the effectiveness of both policies, but even if they do work to drive down crime, it's important to understand the political realities of the institutions that are using them.

Politicians want lower crime rates. This is the demand they make of the police officials who report to them. If your policing philosophy is Broken Windows, and your method of accountability is COMPSTAT, over time there will be a natural pull on the police department to enforce increasingly petty offenses and to manipulate data on more serious crimes. The department brass knows they're evaluated on the serious crime rate, and they've bought into the idea that the best way to control the serious crime rate is to aggressively enforce the low-level stuff.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:39 AM on May 18, 2010


NYPD Whistleblower Says He Was Forcibly Admitted to Psych Ward
posted by homunculus at 8:55 AM on May 19, 2010


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