Tag Archives: sector stats

High School Student Highlights NYC’s Crime Data Cover-Up; Adds to Previous Bronx Reporting

11 Nov

In the Daily News last Friday, high school student Josh Waldman’s letter to the editor tops the page with the headline: “Let us see all the crime numbers.”

Waldman reports how the Police Department keeps all but the current week’s crime statistics a secret. He points out, when the NYPD posts the current precinct-wide weekly data known as CompStat, it removes all prior stats off the site!

Congrats Josh for highlighting this critical issue that virtually no press is paying close attention to, save the Norwood News and City Limits, where I wrote this article almost two years ago.

It focused on the fact that it’s critical to know how current precinct stats compare to past precinct data and, even more importantly, to know where in those precincts specific criminal activity is growing or consistently problematic. That’s called sector stats, more material that the NYPD won’t release. Precincts are the same size as the community districts they are in and many, serving 100,000 residents, are bigger than most American cities. That’s why sector stats are so critical. They keep track of the same crime data — assaults, car thefts, robberies, burglary and murder — as CompStat data. But sector stats provide the data virtually neighborhood by neighborhood.

In the City Limits article, I reported on Bronx councilman Fernando Cabrera’s bill that resulted in law. He was inspired by Norwood News coverage by me and Alex Kratz on the fact that the NYPD refuses to make sector data available. Norwood News did eventually acquire the info through FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) requests but that took more than a year. All media, community boards, community groups, and interested individuals should submit similar FOIL requests to pressure NYPD and city government in general to make the information regularly available.

Cabrera achieved some, but not all, of the change he sought, particularly the provision of sector stats. In maps where you can click on circles indicating some data, the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) website does show generally what block crimes have been committed on but only on a monthly basis. And the site doesn’t indicate sector or neighborhood crime totals. So forget about complete, clear neighborhood sector data. DoITT has kept that hidden as well.

When it became law, Greg Faulkner, Cabrera’s chief of staff, said his office had a similar concern about the map. “It doesn’t have enough details and our vision of it was there was going to be a lot more,” said Greg Faulkner, Cabrera’s chief of staff, in the City Limits article. “We need to hear whether there were specific security concerns about why they were left out.” He added back then that the website was not shared with Council members before it was fully implemented. Had it been, Faulkner says, the city “would have been able to determine whether their implementation matched the Council’s intent.”

It clearly hasn’t.

One more thing:

Waldman, the high school student, even created a NYC Shootings website that holds on to crime stat data that the NYPD removes. (It looks great but it’s not functioning at the moment. Josh, let me know when it’s up an running again.) If students at every high school in the city were keeping an eye on what was going on around them, and acting on it like Waldman, it would have an impact on city policy.


NYPD Blocks Access to Neighborhood Crime Stats; Bill to Set Them Free Held Up in Council

26 Sep

If you want to know whether crime is up or down in your neighborhood, you’re out of luck. While the NYPD releases the data for precincts — which are as big as many U.S. Cities — on their summary CompStat reports on-line, they don’t make the stats for sectors within precinct available to the public.

The Norwood News (where I was editor until last year) began raising the issue of the sector stat lockdown several years ago and continues to do so under editor Alex Kratz.

Council Member Fernando Cabrera introduced legislation last year that would require the NYPD to post the sector data on the web monthly. It’s gone nowhere. I take a deeper look at what’s holding things up and the sector stat issue in general in this City Limits article. Take a look.

NYPD Still Hiding Neighborhood Crime Data

23 May

The previous post on that New York World stop-and-frisk map got me thinking once again about how critical it is for the NYPD to release crime data for neighborhoods rather than just precincts, which is what the weekly CompStat reports cover. Precincts have populations as large as many cities (for example there are about 150,000 people in the 52nd Precinct). The NYPD understands very well that precinct stats alone are not that not helpful in determining where particular categories of crime listed in the CompStat reports are the most prevalent. That’s why they generate more targeted data, called sector stats, for at least a dozen areas within every precinct in the city.

The NYPD rarely makes this data available. At the Norwood News, where I was editor until last September, we once got it from the 52nd Precinct commander, but NYPD brass prevented him and future commanders from sharing it again. So the last time we got it we waited more than a year for the agency to fulfill our Freedom of Information Law request and they complied only after an NBC-TV report (video) highlighted our editorial campaign to get them to release the data.

The data is critical simply because people have the right to know whether they are safe in their own neighborhoods. Precinct-wide data is not helpful in that regard. Crime may be down precinct-wide but it could be up significantly in a sector (which may be one reason the NYPD is locking down the info). New Yorkers should be able to easily find out where crime is going down and where it’s going up.

And they should have easy access to data that indicates what crimes are on the upswing. Lots of car thefts in the area? A spike in rapes? An uptick in assaults? Knowing this info would help residents ensure their own safety and also be on the lookout for crimes in progress. How can more eyes and ears on the streets not be useful to the NYPD?

Last year, motivated by the Norwood News’ reporting, Council Member Fernando Cabrera introduced legislation that would require the NYPD to release the sector stat data on a regular basis. It’s still in committee and we have a call into Cabrera’s office to find out more about its status. We’ll let you know where it’s at soon. In the meantime, take a look at the bill:

It’s not complicated. The NYPD collects this data on the taxpayer dime, yet keeps it hidden from public view. The legislation above would fix that. We hope to see action on it soon.

—Jordan Moss