New York claims to be the safest large city in America. Yet the city’s police department, the largest in the nation, is from time to time accused of crime-data manipulation. A new study from the Center for Research in Crime and Justice at New York University’s School of Law concludes that the city’s crime data are reliable and that the NYPD goes to great lengths throughout its ranks to ensure their accuracy. Additionally, the study finds the department’s extensive efforts at quality control can be instructive nationwide, as they go further than even data-management procedures commonly used by large corporations.
“NYPD, a frequent leader in policing innovations, has set the standard for auditing and quality-control functions that ensure the accuracy of NYPD crime data,” according to the 36-page study by Dennis C. Smith, a professor at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, and Robert M. Purtell, a professor at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany.
The research paper, entitled “Managing Crime Counts: An Assessment of the Quality Control of NYPD Crime Data,” is sponsored by the Center for Research in Crime and Justice at the New York University Law School.
In part, the study finds:
Muscular Quality Assurance Division and Data Integrity units at the city’s police headquarters.
- No evidence for alleged crime-seriousness shifting, such as reporting grand larcenies as petit larcenies.
- Far-reaching internal auditing functions are handled by experienced senior personnel promoted into these roles.
- Systematic attention to data integrity exceeding that of other major police departments surveyed.
“In recent years, there have been instances of questionable reporting practices at NYPD, but they have been detected by the department itself. They have resulted in serious sanctions of those involved,” write Professors Smith and Purtell.
To view a copy of the report in pdf format, go to http://wagner.nyu.edu/news/crimedata.pdf
To interview its authors, contact Robert Polner in the NYU Office of Public Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.998.2337, or Karl Luntta in the UAlbany Office of Media Relations at email@example.com or (518) 956-8150.
Founded in 1993, the Center for Research in Crime and Justice stimulates and promotes criminal justice research at the New York University School of Law, helping to make the school a regional and national focal point for the study, discussion, and debate of criminal-justice policy. It is headed by Professor James B. Jacobs. The co-director is Jerome Skolnick.