NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police Commissioner Bill Bratton took his predecessor to task Tuesday, after former Commissioner Ray Kelly accused Bratton’s NYPD of fudging crime statistics.
Kelly went on to double down on his claims that the department is altering statistics by reclassifying how shootings are counted.
Last week, Kelly appeared on a taping of the AM 970 “Reaching Out with Gregory Floyd, President, Teamsters Local 237,” which was taped Monday and will air on Saturday, Jan. 2, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported. He claimed in the interview that there was “some redefinition going on as to what amounts to a shooting.”
“Look at those numbers, because I think there is some issue with those numbers that are being put out,” Kelly said on the program.
Bratton had harsh words for Kelly during the question-and-answer portion of a news conference on New Year’s Eve security in New York City Tuesday.
“It’s amazing the comments you make when you’re selling a book, to be quite frank with you,” Bratton said. “Those comments were outrageous. My cops work hard – very hard – to reduce gun violence in the city. So for him to denigrate that hard work that has resulted in shootings to be reduced significantly in this city, and claim in some fashion that we’re playing with the numbers – shame on him.”
Bratton went on to claim that Kelly had been “too busy to respond” to calls from reporters to back up his allegation, and advised that Kelly ought to do so.
“Stand up. Be a big man and explain what you’re talking about,” Bratton said.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday night, Kelly responded in a low-key fashion.
“Well I think I am a big man,” he joked. “I’d like to be taller.”
He joked further that he liked the publicity Bratton gave him for his memoir, “Vigilance: My Life Serving America and Protecting Its Empire City.”
“No – come on, I appreciate the promotion of my book,” Kelly said. “Nice of him.”
But Kelly also claimed that trusted sources in the department, which he led for 12 years under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have been questioning how the current administration has tallied gun crime statistics. He supplemented his remarks with a written statement.
“Members of the New York City Police Department have informed me that the current administration has changed the way shootings victims are calculated,” Kelly said in the statement. “For example, victim who incurs a graze wound are often not counted as a shooting victim, as was done previously. Similarly, a victim who sustains wounds by flying glass caused by a shooting is not recorded as a shooting victim.
“Further, wounds sustained by a victim who refuses to cooperate with a police investigation have been recorded as self-inflicted,” Kelly said in the statement. “All in an effort to reduce the reported number of shootings.”
Kelly said the information does not denigrate officers’ work in any way.
“Rather, it reveals an administration willing to distort the reality of what they face on the street,” the statement said.
Kelly also said he was “surprised” at Bratton’s angry words Tuesday. He said he was merely repeating words he heard from active police officers.
Following Kelly’s comments, NYPD Communications Director J. Peter Donald fired back in a tweet
The NYPD also issued a news release addressing Kelly’s claims directly, saying, “The statements made by Raymond Kelly are unsupported by fact and the conclusions drawn are misleading to the public.”
The release said as of Dec. 28, the city has seen an increase in 15 homicides compared with last year, and gun-related homicides are up 22 percent – or by a total of 40.
But the department said the increase represents “the normal ebbs and flows of crime trends in what is a period of historically low numbers.”
The department also categorically denied Kelly’s claims about changes in how shooting statistics are tallied. The department said people who suffer graze wounds are still classified as shooting victims as they always have been.
The NYPD also said Kelly was correct that wounds from flying glass caused by gunfire are not recorded as shootings – but they never were.
“The injury must be from the bullet,” the department release said. “That is the same policy that existed under Mr. Kelly.”
The department took particular issue with Kelly’s claim that shootings where the victim does not cooperate with police are classified as “self-inflicted.”
“The reasons can range from fear of reprisal to concealing their own criminal activity. This is nothing new. Not cooperating with police does not equate to a determination that a wound is self-inflicted and it never has,” the NYPD release said. “Only when additional evidence is developed in a shooting investigation such as witness statements, video, Shotspotter, physical evidence, would the shooting incident be deemed self-inflicted.”
The department said there was one specific incident in the 71st Precinct in Brooklyn where a shooting victim was uncooperative. In that case, security camera video revealed that he happened to have shot himself accidentally, the department said.
“Up until that moment, the case was carried on the books as a shooting incident,” the NYPD said.
The department said the methods for how shootings have not changed at any point since Kelly left his post. The only kinds of shootings that are not counted in crime statistics are:
• Police –involved shooting, if justified;
• Self-inflicted gunshots;
• Justified shootings, such as when a licensed gun owner shoots an armed robber’
• Shootings that are pending justification
• Graze wounds with no blood.
Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier in the day also addressed the controversy, appearing on WOR 710 AM with Len Berman and Joe Bartlett.
Berman said to the mayor, “Kelly was one of those who said crime would spike when stop and frisk decreased. And then a report comes out the other day from John Jay College of Criminal Justice saying crime is at a record low in New York City. So, what am I supposed to believe here?”
De Blasio responded in part: “The NYPD is doing a great job, and these statistics are based on the exact same methodology that Ray Kelly used, which is why I find it surprising that he’s questioning Bill Bratton and the NYPD. They’re using the same exact methodology. What they’re doing is they’re building on previous success and driving down crime further.”
The mayor also took Kelly personally to task last week. He said there have been fewer shootings than last year, and gun arrests are up.
“I would think the response to that would be, ‘Thank you, Commissioner Bratton,’” de Blasio said. “We’re using the exact same metric system that Commissioner Kelly used. The fact is the shootings are down. That’s something to celebrate.”