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Student Question

Look over the article at

  1. What is the theory that is being touted?
  2. How was the theory operationalized?
  3. What were the results?


Expert Answers

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The theory in this article is that crime reports in New York City might contain flawed data, so relying on this data to measure police effectiveness in the city is problematic. For example, lower-ranking officers might be manipulating crime reports to conform to the demands of higher-ranking police officials and their efforts to make sure the data show lower crime rates. 

To operationalize this theory, an e-mail survey was sent to 1,962 retired New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers in 2012. Their e-mail addresses were found through the NYPD database of active retirees. Respondents were able to answer the survey anonymously, and, as they were retired, they did not have to fear workplace retribution for their answers to the survey. The analysis of the survey compared officers' answers about the manipulation of crime reports based on their years of retirement. The survey analysis also looked at whether the officers felt pressure to change crime reports so that they reflected reduced crime. Finally, the survey analysis looked at whether management pressure was what resulted in the manipulation of crime reports. 

The results showed that there was evidence that crime reports had been manipulated. The results also showed that crime report manipulation has increased over the years, and one possible reason for this growth over time has been a management culture that pressures officers to report lower crime rates. Further studies will have to be conducted to support or reject the study's conclusion that reports of New York City crime are not accurate and result from "gaming numbers" to continue the initial decrease in crime statistics at a time when crime was actually staying the same or going up.

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