According to an 88th Precinct Community Affairs officer, this is happening because some precincts in the city allow journalists to access the forms, while others don’t. Reporters from citywide outlets have pushed the precincts that don’t offer the reports to do so. As a result, police authorities at One Police Plaza in Manhattan decided that all precincts will no longer grant journalists access to the forms.
Every Wednesday morning, a reporter from The Nabe visits the 88th Precinct and is handed forms outlining the previous week’s felony crime reports, which includes information on all murder, rape, assault, robbery, burglary or theft of property in the precinct. The reporter copies down the information, asks the officers lingering questions from the reports and writes up the crime blotter post. This will no longer be allowed. Reporters must now contact the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information (DCPI) for all crime inquiries, according to police.
“While the Commanding Officer of the precinct, and not a Community Affairs officer, is the person that can help provide information, DCPI is the hub for all media requests and we will gladly facilitate all inquiries through this office,” a DCPI officer said in a statement.
It is unclear whether DCPI will be able to provide weekly precinct crime reports – and if so, how quickly it will provide them after reporters file Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests. A representative from the New York Civil Liberties Union told The Nabe that there are no statutes in place forcing police to provide the crime report information. Although reporters can file a FOIL request for the reports each week, the information would arrive a month after the request, at the soonest.
A reporter and editor at a lower Manhattan weekly newspaper informed The Nabe that their local precinct also told them about this new policy. An editor at Fort Greene Patch, which also works with the 88th Precinct, said he had not heard about the change, though he has not visited the precinct recently.
The Nabe will do what it can to continue to provide up-to-date local crime reporting. Stay tuned for updates as we find out more.
Additional reporting by Mitchell Trinka