Officer Schoolcraft — Why He Matters

Officer Adrian Schoolcraft – Why He Matters and Why You Most Likely Won’t Hear About Him Again

 Three years ago, Officer Adrian Schoolcraft, a nine-year veteran of the New York Police Department (former Navy medic and son of a retired NYPD captain), was apprehended by fellow officers and supervisors from his precinct and forcibly taken to the psychiatric ward at Jamaica Hospital. All this was against his will and without a legal or medical basis and kept there incommunicado for six days.

What did he do that caused him to be detained for psychiatric evaluation? What was his crime?  It wasn’t the “usual” police misbehavior you read about – acting crazy, barroom brawls, using drugs, selling stolen guns or drugs.

No, his colleagues took him into custody because they learned he had documented some improper organizational behaviors. He had more than a dozen instances where felonies had been downgraded to misdemeanors or victims discouraged from reporting crimes.

Schoolcraft believes this systematically occurs because the NYPD is attempting to “juke the stats;” that is, to report lower and still lower crime rates in the city. It is the dark side of a management systems called “COMPSTAT” and one that I mention in my new book. He also made the ”mistake” of recording his supervisors urging them to “cook the books” and to engage in these improper behaviors. He also recorded the events around his “arrest” on October 31, 2009.

So, the question is whether or not the 81st precinct in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of New York city is just a mis-managed rogue precinct in which Officer Schoolcraft happened to be assigned or is the problem larger? Is it systematic organizational corruption?

But why haven’t we heard more about this?

This case has no prominence today because Schoolcraft and his father filed a civil action against the City of New York for $25 million. That’s why everything is quiet – and it may be so for years while this case unfolds in city courts. This, of course, does little to correct that which may be grossly wrong.

In the meantime, what could be a great case study on how police officers should NOT be managed and led, may now become just another forgotten incident in the annals of policing.

For those of us who have worked in the system, what happened to Schoolcraft is credible. It is the Old Police. And it is the Old Police that needs to change. Even today, police officers are too often intimidated and coerced by their leaders and not treated with dignity or respect.

This Old Leadership needs to go. We all know it is wrong. We all know this is not how men and women should be led – not in any police department let alone the police department in our nation’s largest city. A police department that should be a model of American policing!

My book identifies “four obstacles” that have and are keeping our nation’s police from improving; that is, “arresting” their development. They are anti-intellectualism, violence, corruption and discourtesy. In the Schoolcraft matter, all four obstacles were present.

Unless our nation’s police are selected, trained and led to be good decision-makers, restrained in their use of force, honest as the day is long, and unconditionally courteous to everyone, there will continue to be major police problems occurring.  The change begins with leaders who are smart and practice the New Leadership that I describe in my book.

You may not hear about Adrian Schoolcraft and his complaint again. The city may negotiate a settlement and require a gag-order as a stipulation. But you need to know about Adrian Schoolcraft and why he matters because it is all too often the way in which the Old Police operate. A way of leadership that should no longer be practiced today in 21st century America.

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For more on the Schoolcraft matter, CLICK HERE for Schoolcraft’ excellent interview by Ira Glass on “This American Life”

This matter was first reported in The Village Voice in a 5-part series, CLICK HERE

And HERE for the New York Daily News article and HERE for Chris Churchill’s blog in the New York Times Union.

For a run-down of cases similar to Schoolcraft CLICK HERE.