No matter how many cop movies or episodes of Law & Order one may have watched, how much do civilians really know about what goes on in a police precinct? Thanks to a recent Village Voice investigation—which included the newspaper obtaining hundreds of recorded hours of various cops talking about their jobs —we’ve now been given an inside peek into one precinct.
Reporter Graham Rayman’s fascinating article, “The NYPD Tapes: Inside Bed-Stuy’s 81st Precinct,” lays out how one police officer working in a densely populated area of Brooklyn (a neighborhood one lieutenant officer describes thusly: “You’re working in Bed-Stuy, where everyone’s probably got a warrant”) snuck in a digital tape recorder and recorded his fellow officers and superiors without their knowledge. What we learn is startling, from bosses threatening officers to make their quotas of arrests, to cops’ not accepting cases in order to manipulate crime statistics, and even making direct calls to crime victims in order to intimidate them. It’s an impressive investigative series worth reading and—thanks to The Voice’s putting the audio files online—listening to.
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