Saturday, May 29, 2010

The NYPD Tapes: Bed-Stuy's 81st Precinct Uncensored!

Two years ago, a police officer in a Bedford-Stuyvesant precinct concerned about how the police were serving the community began recording his fellow officers on the job: he recorded EVERYTHING including roll calls, his precinct commander, street encounters with other officers and the public, and station talk and office banter. Made without the knowledge or approval of the NYPD, the tapes—made between June 1, 2008, and October 31, 2009, in the 81st Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant and obtained exclusively by the Village Voice—provide an unprecedented portrait of what it's like to work as a cop in New York City. An Excerpt from the Voice (full article here):
As a result, the tapes show, the rank-and-file NYPD street cop experiences enormous pressure in a strange catch-22: He or she is expected to maintain high "activity"—including stop-and-frisks—but, paradoxically, to record fewer actual crimes.

This pressure was accompanied by paranoia—from the precinct commander to the lieutenants to the sergeants to the line officers—of violating any of the seemingly endless bureaucratic rules and regulations that would bring in outside supervision.

The tapes also reveal the locker-room environment at the precinct. On a recording made in September, the subject being discussed at roll call is stationhouse graffiti (done by the cops themselves) and something called "cocking the memo book," a practical joke in which officers draw penises in each other's daily notebooks.

In one tape, precinct supervisors talk about a specific "numbers" quota, warn cops to pick up their numbers, or else, and complain about outside inspections. In another tape recorded in September 2009, pressure for "numbers" are discussed (summonses, arrests, stop and frisks and community visits) because it was the end of the month and activity reports had to be filed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just like The Wire!

- T