All crime stats should be public


418 days, 12 hours, 24 minutes and 11 seconds. That’s how long the editors of the Norwood News have been waiting for the 52nd Precinct to provide them with a simple sector-by-sector breakdown of crime in that command, as of this writing.

It’s information they know the NYPD is capable of providing quickly. And we know it too.

The Press’ local 50th Precinct is always willing to provide statistics on each sector of our community and we publish them annually. They allow us, and our readers, to see where the precinct is doing a  great job and where, perhaps, improvements should be made. Their openness reaffirms that they’ve got nothing to hide.

It makes us wonder what the 52nd is afraid to reveal.

According to a recent editorial, the first time the Norwood News requested a breakdown of crime stats, then-commander of the 52nd Precinct James Alles immediately directed a lieutenant to print them out.

“It took all of two minutes,” according to the editorial. But the next time the paper asked for the statistics, Mr. Alles said higher-ups in the NYPD told him not to give the information out.

Since then, the NYPD has gone back and forth on its stance, folding when the paper mounted public pressure and then withholding the stats again.  

After filing a Freedom of Information Law request that went unanswered until the Norwood News wrote an editorial slamming the policy, the paper made another request on June 3, 2010. What once took minutes to produce has now been delayed or ignored for more than 400 days.

Soon the NYPD could have no choice. Councilman Fernando Cabrera recently announced that he will introduce legislation that would require police to provide sector stats to the public every quarter.

The Riverdale Press commends such action, as well as the Norwood News for demanding from the 52nd Precinct the same standard of transparency that we have enjoyed from the 50th. 

We encourage other politicians, newspapers — and the citizens who rely on them to stay informed — to show their support.

— The Riverdale Press editorial staff