Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Crime Fighting Kings Pt. 2

After Jack Maple brought COMPSTAT to the NYPD, crime went down for 25 years straight. But the crime busting machine also had unforeseen side effects.

During the crimeless era, a cop is working the nightshift in the Bronx.

As he patrols the shopping streets at midnight, a man runs up to him and says, “You gotta listen to me. I saw a lady being dragged into an alley. It didn’t look good.”

The two hop into the squad car and drive to the scene. 

You could hear her screams through the closed car windows. The policeman dashed out of the car, gun and torch drawn.

As he points the lit torch into the alley, he sees a man and a woman. Both pantless.

He orders them both to step onto the sidewalk. And as the two walk into the street light, she explains exactly what happened.

She was raped.

The cop calls in the crime. Five minutes later, his boss shows up.

The chief questions the lady over and over again. Not because he was concerned whether he could prosecute the suspect. But because he was looking for holes in her story.

A New York squad commander was looking to downgrade her crime.

Why?

He didn’t want to enter the felony into COMPSTAT and stick another dot onto the crime map.

Since the introduction of COMPSTAT, downgrading crimes was normal.

When Jack Maple made the local police chiefs responsible for the crime in their neighbourhoods, the consequences were simple:

Can’t get rid of crime? You’re fired.

But the chiefs had an option Jack didn’t foresee.

After all, if the people whose job is to track the crime are the same as the people whose job is to fight crime, the solution is simple:

Don’t report crime.

With no paper trail leading to the criminal offence, police chiefs could visit COMPSTAT meetings without fear of losing their jobs.

In fact, they’d get promoted for reducing crime.

And the legitimate commanders? They got into trouble because they couldn’t fight crime as quickly as their crooked peers could sweep it under the carpet.

Jack’s system ultimately failed, because crime was easier to ignore than to combat.

The biggest problem wasn’t even that the crime rates were a lie.

It was that 90s mayor Giuliani decided that the reduction in crime had to be seen. He wanted proof.

Lowering crime rates is easy. Just look the other way.

Proving crime is down, however, is tough.

You need people behind bars, court hearings, and physical evidence.

So what did the police chiefs do? They demanded more arrests, summons, and frisks. The chiefs even gave every cop a quota.

Didn’t make the number? Prepare for an earful.

Let’s suppose a robbery finds its way onto the precinct crime map. And witnesses identified the suspects as hispanics between the ages of 18 and 25.

Chiefs then expect their policemen to flood the area, look for anyone who fits the description, and make the necessary amount of arrests.

Although the odds of finding the actual perps are small, it does lead to lots of arrests. And ‘proof’ for the chiefs.

More than anything, the desire for more proof led to hundreds of thousands of innocent New Yorkers being harassed by police without grounds.

And because old habits die hard, the police almost always target minorities. Never the rich and white.

Ultimately, Jack’s system to treat crime seriously failed. 

Not because his plan was bad. But because the people who were charged to enforce the plan cared more about looking good than doing good.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach