NYPD, Health Department Decide Public Shouldn't Know How Many New Yorkers Are Killed By Cops Every Year

from the undercounting-to-better-serve-the-only-public-that-matters:-police-officers dept

The NYPD has never been the most honest — or the most transparent — law enforcement agency. It enjoys the secrecy it has. And it really enjoys the secrecy it grants itself. And it seems to enjoy hiding as much as it can from the public at all times.

Trying to live up to its self-imposed reputation as “New York’s Finest” must be exhausting. So much bad news to bury so often. The city has asked for stats from the department but it’s not getting honest answers. New York’s cops kill far fewer people per capita than almost any other major city in the United States. But they kill far more people than the NYPD is willing to admit, even when directed to share this data with the city’s Health Department.

[Former health commissioner] Dr. [Mary] Bassett’s team identified 105 people killed by the police or police activity during the period from 2010 to 2015, more than double the 46 the agency had publicly reported for those years. Of the unreported deaths, 13 were bystanders hit by police bullets or pedestrians killed from vehicle accidents during police activity.

Dr. Bassett passed this information on to Mayor Bill de Blasio shortly after protests over the killing of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer began taking off across the country. There was more bad news appended to the email sent to the Mayor. Not only were there more killings than the NYPD reported, but the numbers seemed to show biased responses by officers.

The team also found deep racial disparities in the deaths. For example, six black New Yorkers and five Hispanic residents who died as a result of encounters with the police during this period were unarmed; no unarmed whites were killed.

Unfortunately, the full report — containing the official under-counting noted by Dr. Bassett — was buried by incoming Police Commissioner Demot Shea, who decided this collaboration wasn’t worth continuing. Neither does the current head of the Health Department, Oxiris Barbot, who has yet to publish Bassett’s findings.

It doesn’t look as though the Mayor will be much help in bringing this information to the public or ensuring the NYPD does a better job counting deaths related to police interactions. The NYPD has apparently decided certain people aren’t worthy of the “officer-involved killing” label. This includes people who were killed by vehicles while being chased into traffic by officers and others whose paperwork was incomplete when their bodies arrived at the medical examiner.

While Mayor de Blasio promised to rein in the NYPD after several years of being catered to by Mayor Blue Lives Matter himself, Mike Bloomberg, he has done little to curtail the worst aspects of the department after officers and union officials very publicly expressed their displeasure at his supposed lack of support. It appears de Blasio needs the support of cops more than he needs the support of the public.

Going forward, things aren’t going to improve. The NYPD will decide how many deaths its officers are involved in and only officially approved numbers will be released. No outside assistance will be accepted and no impartial reflection of the true cost of aggressive policing will make its way into the public’s hands.

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Comments on “NYPD, Health Department Decide Public Shouldn't Know How Many New Yorkers Are Killed By Cops Every Year”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

'They don't even have badges, not like their lives matter...'

Nothing like hiding how many people end up dead thanks to interactions with the local police to make crystal clear just how filled with murderous psychopaths a department is, highlighting yet another case where ‘reforms’ are not going to cut it and the only fix that will actually work would be to gut the entire force and rebuild from the ground up.

I would be hard pressed to think of a better example of ‘conflict of interest’ then tasking police with reporting the number of people that die thanks to the ones doing the reporting, making the fact that that’s simply accepted as normal all the more insane.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

"The team also found deep racial disparities in the deaths. For example, six black New Yorkers and five Hispanic residents who died as a result of encounters with the police during this period were unarmed; no unarmed whites were killed."

Which, is of course, the entire issue. George Floyd was slowly murdered in front of an audience despite having committed no crime other than maybe having some counterfeit money. philando Castille was killed while following the officer’s instructions. Dylann Roof was taken in unharmed after murdering 9 black people. The El paso shooter was taken in alive after killing 23 and injuring around the same in an attack aimed at Hispanics.

Those are examples on the extreme, but that’s why these protests are happening. On some levels the different is so obvious that it can’t be explained away any more without admitting that some people are just treated differently.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"Believe me, if it were fake, they would have blared it everywhere."

…and it still wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to sane people. He could have been caught printing them out on the street outside, it still wouldn’t be punishable by death even if he had been afforded a trial rather than being executed on the spot.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Well, like the virus...

Don’t worry about that, "Dr." Bill Barr knows the cure for peon communications… nuke the platform from orbit (or pass laws that are unjust and target exactly those types of communication.. you know the proles speaking out against their bettors…)

When he’s done you won’t even be able to call your mother…

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Upstream (profile) says:

They work for us

This point needs to be driven home like a wooden stake into a vampire’s heart. As the top level employer, the people, the public, should have complete access to all personnel and disciplinary records, going back to the beginning of time, for all government employees, including cops. In fact, we should have access to all government documents of any kind, with very narrow exceptions for actual military secrets, and actual ongoing law enforcement investigations. The very fact that we have to have things like the FOIA, sunshine laws, and the like, and that we frequently have to use the courts to enforce these laws (usually with very limited success) is a direct indication of the level of corruption in government. It is also a clear indicator of just how far away our government has gotten from those old ideas about "government of the people, by the people, and for the people" and "consent of the governed."

Anonymous Coward says:

Friday deep thoughts:

Here’s a Friday deep thought for the Police in general –> Suck hard candy.

There are currently 3 judicial systems in the US:
-1 for the rich
-1 for the poor
-1 for the police
Until they police are equally held accountable for the same laws that they enforce, police brutality will continue.
When the dust settles, all I want is ACCOUNTABILITY.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Anonymous Coward says:

I'm off to see the Wizard of Laws!

Have you been killed by a cop? Were you falsely executed? Has your name been defamed, derided, derailed, debunked or defecated in public? Call Mike! He can publish your story, make money, keep all the money, and talk about you endlessly to horde of phony posters. He knows how to dip his own wick into your suffering and make a BUNDLE! There is no place like Techdirt, there is no place like Techdirt, now click those German bootheels together gently, three times darling, and say, Defund The Police! You’re ON YOUR WAY to a NEW LAND of Opportunity for Mike! I’m off the meet the wizard, the wizard the wizard of Laws, on Techdirt, brought to you by the Democratic Party.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: "far fewer people per capita"

Yeah, the BJS is required by congressional order (and has been for decades) to report each and every police-involved killing, which they had failed to do so for years. In the 20th century some non-profits started tracing deaths back to incidents, and after Ferguson in 2014 major news agencies started doing the same kind of tracking.

So this raises the question of what evidence supports that NYPD kill fewer people than other municipalities. What’s the source for this claim.

Also, are the NYPD going to stop those private-sector efforts in motion to track their violence? Are they going to do so violently?

Their interest in dissolving accountability only reduces the already-threadbare public faith in the NYPD, in current police institutions and in law enforcement and our dependence upon policing for public safety. If the NYPD wants to stay operational, it should be looking for more public-facing accountability, not less.

Police officers arbitrarily killing civilians is far less healthy for New Yorkers than worry about police officers arbitrarily killing civilians.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

I work in .gov, and everything I do is available to the public. Granted, 99.99% of what I do, no one outside of .gov would ever care about, but that’s not the point.

So, with that in mind, how is information about someone getting shot by the NYPD, in any fashion at all, not instantly available to the public in a meaningful format? Sure, you could have some of the bullshit about protecting identities and whatever, but that it happened should always be available to public.

It should be a fucking metric on the city’s website.

As an aside, one of my pet peeves is bad stats in .gov. To secure funding, one agency I know of claimed a substantial reduction in crime due to the funds it received and picked a very specific data point to prove it. Sarcastically, I often point out other off-kilter things that happened at the same time, which ‘ll claim caused the drop, and people will tell me how stupid I am. But, the fact is, lots of things affect crime and claiming one thing did it, is dumbfuckery at it’s best.

No police department, ever, should be allowed to pick and choose the metrics it presents to the public. It’s a recipe for disaster.

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