ADRIAN SCHOOLCRAFT: A GENUINE “AMERICAN HERO”
Adrian Schoolcraft is a suspended New York Police Department officer who in May 2010 released secretly recorded tapes to The Village Voice. Schoolcraft alleges that these tapes show corruptionwithin New York City’s 81st Police Precinct. The recordings were later published as a series of articles entitled “The NYPD Tapes”, and led to allegations that “commanders at the 81st Precinct pushed ticket and arrest quotas on officers.”
The five-part Village Voice series on the tapes is essential reading:
Two years ago, a police officer in a Brooklyn 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.
He recorded precinct roll calls. He recorded his precinct commander and other supervisors. He recorded street encounters. He recorded small talk and stationhouse banter. In all, he surreptitiously collected hundreds of hours of cops talking about their jobs.
Made without the knowledge or approval of the NYPD, the tapes—made between June 1, 2008, and October 31, 2009, in the 81st Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant and obtained exclusively by the Voice—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.
This pressure was accompanied by paranoia—from the precinct commander to the lieutenants to the sergeants to the line officers—of violating any of the seemingly endless bureaucratic rules and regulations that would bring in outside supervision.
Or listen to Schoolcraft’s story on This American Life.