Monday, June 21, 2010

Solving Philly Crime with an Eraser: The “Good Irishman” and the Race Man

By Nicholas Stix

May 12, 2002
Toogood Reports/A Different Drummer

Part II of a Two-Part Series
Part I: “The Philadelphia Story: When the Cops are Crooks”

Disarmed, frightened urban voters demand that violent malefactors be brought to heel. And yet, while urban crime is the monopoly of blacks and Hispanics, racist black and Hispanic “civilians” have joined with the mainstream media, to make cracking down on hardcore criminals political suicide for police brass. This impossible situation dictates that calls for crackdowns on violent crime be massaged with fraudulent crime statistics.

In my previous column, I talked about the Philadelphia Police Department’s penchant for hiring undesirables, based on the color of their skin, who as police officers commit crimes. The PPD’s other pressing problem is its whimsical approach to crime reporting. The Department has been repeatedly caught publishing fraudulent crime statistics, in order to fabricate the perception that crime is under control. Felonies are routinely downgraded to misdemeanors, non-crimes, or simply “disappeared.”

Much of Philadelphia’s crime-fighting success occurred on the watch of Dublin-born Commissioner John F. Timoney, formerly of the NYPD, who ran the PPD from March, 1998 through the end of last year. As a glowing 2000 biography by the American Immigration Law Foundation reported, “[Timoney] is widely credited, both within the Department and more widely, as having been one of the principal architects of the NYPD’s success in reducing crime in New York.”

Conversely, Debbie Goldberg reported in a December 1, 1998, Washington Post article that the crime-fighting method favored by the PPD was fraudulent crime statistic reporting. “‘It’s been an accepted practice over a long period of time,’ said a 25-year Philadelphia police veteran who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“‘There’s pressure to keep crime statistics down, and captains are held responsible for what goes on in their districts.’

“A typical example is a stolen license plate - a crime that should be reported to the FBI - logged as missing property because, he said, ‘it could have fallen off the car.’ Or when someone stabbed by a family member or friend does not prosecute, the crime may be downgraded from aggravated assault to a hospital case, which also is excluded from federal crime statistics, he said.”

In a U.S. News & World Report story from April 24, 2000, Frank McCoy reported that, “facing political heat to cut crime in the city, investigators in the Philadelphia Police Department’s sex-crime unit sat on [thousands of] reports of rapes and other sexual assaults. “The way we solved crime,” says Capt. Rich Costello, president of the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, “was with an eraser.”

However, Frank McCoy’s story had a happy ending — then-Commissioner John Timoney got women’s groups involved in the “reform” of the sex crimes unit. In 2000, a limited investigation by the FBI and the city controller estimated that in 1998, the PPD had “failed to report between 13,000 and 37,000 major crimes.” FBI investigators randomly selected 1,000 police records, and investigators from the Controller’s Office interviewed 300 complainants, asking what them what their complaint had been, and comparing it to the report made by the officer in question. Police reports of “lost/stolen property,” a non-crime, for instance, turned out to frequently be cover stories for breaking-and-entering and grand larceny, which are felonies.

But the PPD’s home-grown specialty, unique to my knowledge among urban police departments, was the “unfounding” of sexual attacks. As a 2000 Philadelphia Inquirer report, “The Rape Squad Files” noted, from 1997-1999, of 300,000 sex crime reports, “The reports include several thousand incidents that were deemed ‘investigation of persons’ or ‘investigation, protection, medical examination’ — two non-crime codes often applied to allegations of sexual assault.”

Even some rapes carried out by the Rittenhouse Square serial rapist were “disappeared” in this way. Among other purposes, the PPD’s fudging of the rape rate helped make its rape arrest rates look much better than they really were.

When Philadelphia Inquirer reporters Mark Fazlollah and Craig R. McCoy wrote, on September 14, 2000, about the Controller’s Office/FBI investigation, Commissioner Timoney chided the report, claiming that it had used police reports based on a methodology that he had replaced since taking over the PPD in March, 1998. The reporters pointed out, however, that the majority of the cases in question were from the period AFTER Commissioner Timoney had supposedly “reformed” crime reporting procedures. The following year, with nothing having changed, a new Philadelphia Inquirer report observed that, “Among police, the practice is called ‘going down with crime.’“

John Timoney’s claim that the fraudulent crime statistics were the result of reporting methods he had since reformed, is the law enforcement equivalent of corporate executives fudging their profit margins by misrepresenting profits and losses, and when caught, claiming that bookkeeping anomalies are the result of obsolete “accounting practices” or a “one-time charge” against profits.

* * *
In Jim Sleeper’s powerful 1990 work assailing black racism, The Closest of Strangers: Liberalism and the Politics of Race in New York, Sleeper argued that an enlightened politics requires cooperation across racial lines. Sleeper’s error was in identifying racial cooperation with the politics of racial comity he favored.

In fact, ever since the 1920s’ “Harlem Renaissance,” some (and today, a great many) whites have reached across racial lines, to cooperate with blacks in the service of black supremacism. John Timoney, for one, was as expert at massaging black egos, as he was at charming the media.

Timoney came to America at the age of 13, joined the NYPD in 1969, and stayed there for almost 30 years, rising to the rank of first deputy commissioner, the second in command to Commissioner William Bratton (1994-1996). Bratton, a Boston Irishman, was also adept at massaging the egos of racist black leaders, particularly leaders of the Nation of Islam, and to a lesser degree, at impressing newspaper editors.

Like Bratton, Timoney was a “good Irishman,” the antidote to both the “evil Irishman,” the racist, mad-dog lawman who targets black males, and to the “heartless bureaucrat,” a la Howard Safir, whom then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani chose over Timoney in 1996, to replace the departing William Bratton. An incensed Timoney denounced Safir as “a lightweight,” and promptly put in his retirement papers.

(Actually, Safir was a hard-nosed lawman who as a DEA agent had been in fire fights, shot men dead, and seen partners shot dead. But the modest Safir didn’t like to talk about his experiences. And instead of courting the media, he immediately offended them, by illegally banning top crime reporter Lenny Levitt of Newsday from his press conferences, and then suffering the humiliation of having to readmit Levitt. And while every New York City police commissioner serves at the pleasure of the mayor, politically sophisticated commissioners and would-be commissioners (i.e., Bratton and Timoney) today cultivate the illusion of independence that the media crave and demand.)

That the “good Irishman,” the “evil Irishman,” and the “heartless bureaucrat,” live only in the fantasies of racist black leaders, and socialist reporters and editors, takes nothing away from the fantasies’ political influence.

Timoney could tell stories, strike a conciliatory pose, and mock Safir and Giuliani alike, all of which endeared him to the reporters and editors who controlled his public image, and to the black (and to a lesser degree, feminist) leaders whose egos he had to constantly stroke. He won over new Mayor John Street so thoroughly, that Street, who is black, parted with tradition, in not naming his own police commissioner, and retained the white Timoney, even though the previous two commissioners had been black. And Timoney, who bragged that every crisis was a challenge, managed to turn journalists reporting on the department’s travails into cheerleaders.

Early in Timoney’s tenure (December 28, 1998), a Christian Science Monitor story by Andrea Fine, on Philly’s history of fraudulent crime statistics, became a valentine to Timoney’s reform efforts: “Policing the Record Books: Philadelphia Takes Lead in Cleaning Up Crime Statistics.”

Sixteen months later, national reporters still had not woken up and smelled the blarney. In an April 24, 2000 article, U.S. News’ Frank McCoy fell hook, line, and sinker for Timoney’s story that he was getting feminist groups to help him clean up the sex crime statistics: “Listening to the Victims: In Philadelphia, Women Help Solve Sex Crimes.”

Popular assumptions notwithstanding, reporters are, unfortunately, human, all-too-human. They say nice things about people they like, and badmouth those they dislike.

John Timoney’s “crime-fighting” method was the same one his immediate predecessors, Willie L. Williams (1988-1992) and Richard Neal (1992-1998) had used, and that he had learned under NYPD commissioners Ray Kelly (who served under socialist mayor, David N. Dinkins, and who is now, in his second tour of duty, “Republican” Mike Bloomberg’s commissioner) and William Bratton, and which Howard Safir continued unchanged, after Bratton and Timoney’s departure — the “revolution” of systemic, fraudulent, crime-reporting.

Timoney’s one “innovation” in Philadelphia was his immediate introduction of the “Compstat” (computer statistics) model that Bratton and his crime guru, the late detective Jack Maple, had introduced in New York. In theory, Compstat tracks concentrations of crime by neighborhood, day, and time of day, so that manpower may properly be re-allocated to where it is most needed. As the PPD web site explains, “The essence of the COMPSTAT process can be summarized briefly as follows: Collect, analyze and map crime data and other essential police performance measures on a regular basis and hold police managers accountable for their performance as measured by these data.” The web site breaks “The Philosophy of COMPSTAT” down into the essentials of “Accurate and Timely Intelligence,” “Effective Tactics,” “Rapid Deployment of Personnel and Resources” and “Relentless Follow-up and Assessment.”

It all sounds great, however, like all computer systems, Compstat is a “GIGO” — “garbage in, garbage out” — proposition, only as good as the inputted data. And Compstat is inseparable from a management culture which requires that commanders show constant, dramatic decreases in crime, or be publicly humiliated at regularly-held Compstat meetings, and see their careers stall.

Since policing is at present thoroughly politicized, Compstat has become, in practice, just another empty PR scheme, no better than the “community policing” model favored by socialists.

* * *
When John Timoney finally decided to get out of the PPD, it wasn’t because of any scandal arising from fraudulent crime reporting, but rather a flukey throwback to Philly’s bad old days under thuggish police chief (1967-71) and mayor (1972-1980), Frank Rizzo, who once infamously remarked, “The streets are safe in Philadelphia, it’s only the people who make them unsafe.”

Last July 12, an ultraviolent, career felon named Thomas Jones, 30, went on a 24-hour crime spree, in which he allegedly stole three purses, committed a carjacking, and stole a police cruiser. When Jones was finally arrested, after police violated department regulations by firing over 40 shots at him in a residential neighborhood during the daytime, a small mob of predominantly black cops beat and kicked him on live TV.

Note that neighborhood people interviewed after the beating were supportive of Jones, and contemptuous of the cops.

Following the Jones incident, which received national attention, Mayor John Street affirmed his support for Timoney, and the Philadelphia Daily News satirized the closeness between the two men, by superimposing their faces over those of Jackie Gleason and Art Carney, under the front page headline, “The Honeymooners.” Even the local NAACP chief, while looking to get rich representing Jones in the obligatory, frivolous civil suit, spoke supportively of Timoney. But at a press conference, Street curtly cut Timoney off, and while Timoney joked to reporters that he might get fired tomorrow, he was apparently only half-kidding, and started shifting about to get out, while the getting was good.

Late last year, Timoney resigned to become CEO, in January, of Bo Dietl & Associates, the investigative and security company founded by the flamboyant, ex-NYPD detective.

So far, there has been no sign that Sylvester M. Johnson, the 36-year veteran first deputy commissioner appointed last month as Timoney’s successor, plans on changing a thing.

On April 13, at an NAACP training convention in Philadelphia, Mayor John Street shouted, “The brothers and sisters are running the city. Oh, yes. The brothers and sisters are running this city. Running it! Don’t let nobody fool you, we are in charge of the City of Brotherly Love . . .”

Oh, yes, Mayor Street. Nobody is being fooled.

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