The Adrian Schoolcraft business is out of control. For those who aren’t familiar with events, Schoolcraft is the NYPD police officer who taped supervisors encouraging cops to downgrade crime, meet “productivity goals” (quotas), and otherwise take action that would make the command look good at CompStat meetings downtown. The orders appeared to emanate from folks at the top of the chain of command. A posse of NYPD Emergency Service officers led by Chief Mike Marino (and possibly a deputy commissioner) barged into Schoolcraft’s home, told him they wanted to take him back to 81 precinct where he worked. Marino claimed he was worried about him. They were worried about why he’d gone AWOL and left work an hour or so early. Apparently he didn’t sign out in the log book or get his supervisor’s signature on the required paperwork. If this was the case then the Department had a reason to be concerned. When Schoolcraft told Marino that he left because he wasn’t feeling well and wouldn’t accompany the police back to the 81 precinct, Marino apparently concluded he was an EDP (emotionally disturbed person) and forcibly removed him from his house or apartment. From the perspective of a commander, a normal cop obeys orders and doesn’t just walk off the job. A normal cop also answers the door on the first few knocks. The police drove Schoolcraft to Jamaica hospital in Queens where he was locked up inside a psychiatric ward for six days although he didn’t appear to have suicidal thoughts or hallucinations and was “calm and not agitated” according to hospital records.
This incident raises many questions
l. How does the NYPD define crazy and who is Schoolcraft? Does crazy apply to someone who refuses to obey what he feels are troublesome orders by superiors; as someone who dares to tape record in a police precinct without consent of the Police Commissioner, Internal Affairs, or the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information; or as someone who believes that the job should be on the level and gets upset when it’s not and he comes to realize that what he learned at the academy isn’t precisely practiced on the street? Instead of “lying low” and doing what he’s told, he makes waves about informal practices that he finds morally problematic and, in so doing, puts his bosses at risk and embarrasses the Department. Alternatively, Schoolcraft might be a “do nothing” who doesn’t want to work hard and is using any excuse he can to get away with doing nothing. Maybe he’s a manipulative borderline who’s out to sue the department and make a lot of money (see www.copinthehood for Peter Moskos’ take on the whole situation). In terms of the Department, at least, Schoolcraft doesn’t act like a “normal” cop and thus presents a major problem for the Department. Is he stable and should he be wearing a gun is an important question.
2. Chief Mike Marino – How’d you get involved in this? My guess is you decided that Schoolcraft is one of your Brooklyn cops and therefore you had to carry the burden rather than put it on the shoulders of some one else. You’re a good man. You’ve had a lot of experience dealing with troublesome cops in the 77 and 75 precinct, although Schoolcraft is hardly the typical “thug” cop who sometimes comes to rule the nest in very rough houses (precincts). I understand your frustrations and the pressure you must have been under to handle this from above. I hope that you survive this ordeal with your career intact.
3. Why did psychiatrists at Jamaica hospital admit Adrian Schoolcraft if he didn’t appear a danger to himself or others? Do hospital psychiatrists normally admit patients for six days based on the “facts” as presented by police? What was the official account to the psychiatrists or hospital staff? Did someone from psychological services in the Department provide a reason for the psychiatrists to admit Schoolcraft and when and how were they involved then or before? Did the police tell the truth as they understood it or did they make up a story to justify his incarceration and get Schoolcraft temporarily out of their hair? Marino’s a hard charger. He’s also a straight shooter without an evil bone in his body. I suspect that he told the truth as he saw it although a higher ranking commander may have been present to dress the account.
4.Maybe it’s time to admit that the NYPD doesn’t have total control of crime; that maybe it’s time to increase the ranks in uniformed patrol and reduce the numbers staring at computers in inflated counterterrorism divisions inside. Until the last few years, CompStat did not include the detective division and only required Captains and other unit or precinct commanders to account for crime in their commands and explain what they were doing to reduce the numbers. Now CompStat has been extended to include Lieutenants and even sergeants, providing picayune details about the activity of officers in particular platoons. What else can these supervisors do but ask their officers to find summonses and make arrests even in circumstances when it’s not a good idea? CompStat has also infiltrated the detective division and is destroying what was a great job there that involved serious police work, commitment and skill.Ultimately those who have pushed CompStat to this extreme are responsible for the Schoolcraft mess while good men like Mike Marino are left to take the fall. The irony is that CompStat has long ceased to be about controlling crime and protecting the public. Instead it’s become a way for particular Police Commissioners and their right hand men and women to justify their existence and make their administration look good in the eyes of the public and press. Morale is far lower than it’s ever been and the job’s turned into a numbers game that has little to do with good policing.