After months of polite sparring, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton and his predecessor, Ray Kelly, took off the gloves Tuesday and got into battle over Kelly’s claims the city was playing around with crime statistics.
At a news conference about New Year’s Eve security, Bratton laced into Kelly for alleging a week ago during a radio interview that the current NYPD administration was redefining crimes, particularly shooting incidents, to make crime statistics look better.
“It is amazing the comments you will make when selling a book,” Bratton said with a touch of sarcasm, referring to a book Kelly released earlier this year. “Quite frankly, those comments were outrageous.
“My cops work hard, very hard, to reduce gun violence in the city. So for him to denigrate their hard work as the result of shootings being reduced significantly in this city, to claim in some fashion that we are playing with the numbers, shame on him. Let him back up that allegation,” an increasingly angry Bratton said.
In response, Kelly, who last week didn’t reply to requests for comment by some reporters, acknowledged Tuesday night that he had no firsthand information about fudged crime data, but said he had been told about it by people still in the NYPD.
“Members of the New York City Police Department have informed me that the current administration has changed the way shooting victims are calculated,” Kelly said. “For example, a victim who incurs a graze wound are often not counted as a shooting victim, as was done previously. Similarly, a victim who sustains wounds by flying glass caused by a shooting is not recorded as a shooting victim.”
Kelly said he had been told wounds sustained by a victim who refuses to cooperate with a police investigation have been recorded as self-inflicted. He also said that in homicides, the category of “cause undetermined pending police investigation” has been misapplied to manipulate murder totals.
“This information, supplied by active members of the department themselves, in no way denigrates the hard work of our police officers,” Kelly said. “Rather, it reveals an administration willing to distort the reality of what they face on the street.”
But Dermot Shea, NYPD deputy commissioner for operations, said for at least the last four years, including during Kelly’s administration, the definition of shooting has not changed whatsoever. He said the classification of “cause undetermined pending police investigation” is a term used and defined by the medical examiner and not the NYPD.