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Nassau police commander demoted over crime stats

A Nassau police car outside the Sixth Precinct.

A Nassau police car outside the Sixth Precinct. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Nassau Police precinct commander was demoted for misclassifying and not counting crime statistics, department officials said Tuesday night.

Thomas DePaola's rank is being lowered from inspector to a captain over "a lack of judgment" related to improperly classifying crimes during the past year and a half at the Sixth Precinct, said 1st Deputy Commissioner Thomas Krumpter.

Among the allegations, officials said:

Misclassification of crimes that should have been labeled felony grand larcenies but were downgraded to petty larcenies.

Not counting crimes in which victims requested no arrests of perpetrators.

In one case, the burglary of a business was classified as criminal mischief, a low-level crime.

In another instance, officials said, DePaola ordered that a case involving a victim whose wallet was stolen be classified as a petty larceny.

"His interpretation was that that was a misdemeanor and they canceled the credit cards and thus it had no value," Krumpter said.

"The department will not tolerate this, period," Krumpter said.

About 170 crimes spanning from early 2011 to as recently as weeks ago were expected to be reclassified after a weeks-long audit of the statistics, officials said.

Krumpter said the department is contacting the FBI and the State Division of Criminal Justice Services. Nassau is required to send its statistics to both agencies.

The Sixth Precinct has one of the lowest reported crime rates in the county.

DePaola did not return a message left at his home Tuesday night. Chief department spokesman Insp. Kenneth Lack said DePaola would have no comment.

The improper classifications came to light after senior department officials noticed higher than normal error rates.

A standard error rate is about 2 percent, Krumpter said. The error rate of the Manhasset-based Sixth Precinct under DePaola was about 12 percent.

"What they found was an error rate that was far more than acceptable," Krumpter said. Using the lingo for a commanding officer, he added, "This particular CO's numbers were out of alignment. They were out of whack."

That error rate led top police officials to assign three chiefs -- Chief of Patrol Frank Kirby, Assistant Chief Neil Delargy and Deputy Chief Kevin Canavan -- to audit hundreds of Sixth Precinct crime reports, reviewing the narratives.

"We actually went out and went through the paperwork," Krumpter said. "We talked to a lot of people."

That audit did not find such anomalies in any other precinct, he said. "In seven other commands that he wasn't running, that didn't happen," Krumpter said.

Officials said they can't remember the last time someone holding such high rank in the police department had been demoted.

"This is the first time we've ever had something like this," Krumpter said. "I don't recall a time when we demoted someone from inspector to captain."

The story has been changed to clarify the status of DePaolo at the time of his demotion.

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