The growing NYPD ticket-fixing scandal is about to get worse.
Thirty cops were secretly recorded during the massive probe, and what was heard on thousands of hours of tape goes far beyond just making traffic violations disappear for family and friends. Sources tell me what's yet to come out is potentially criminal conduct:
• Several officers allegedly tried to deep-six domestic violence incidents involving off-duty cops before police headquarters found out.
• Others allegedly tried to quash drunk-driving incidents involving their brethren.
• And still others were allegedly overheard making arrangements for and paying prostitutes.
Evidence is being presented to a Bronx grand jury that's weighing criminal charges.
Two weeks ago, I disclosed that the NYPD has a list of at least 24 cops who cannot even think about retirement until the criminal cases are done and several hundred more officers, maybe as many as 500, who could face disciplinary action from the NYPD.
A source says they include officers in virtually every rank: a chief; one inspector; four deputy inspectors; four captains; 10 lieutenants; 25 detectives; 30 sergeants; and the rest are police officers, many of them union delegates.
As I reported last week, some cops are being probed for receiving money, free meals or booze for "favors." Others allegedly had renovations done to their homes or repairs made to their cars or choice seats at sporting events. An executive with the New York Yankees even got a speeding ticket fixed.
Investigators went to the locker of one police union delegate in Lower Manhattan. They recovered copies of 240 tickets covering all of 2010.
There are so many cases for the prosecutors to handle that they have set threshold levels regarding corruption and fixed tickets that will trigger possible criminal charges rather than disciplinary action by the NYPD.
"The number of arrests may be closer to 40 and the number of cases for the NYPD around 500," a source said.
Here is the borough breakdown of the numbers of cops touched by the probe are: 55 in Manhattan; 30 in queens; seven on Staten Island; 30 in Brooklyn; 380 in the Bronx.
Money, food, booze, or prostitutes in return for favors?
Domestic abuse and drunk driving cases quashed?
40-500 police involved?
Includes officers in every rank?
This is starting to sound like more than a ticket-fixing scandal for city luminaries (as has been asserted by the NYPD and the mayor.)
This is starting to sound like old-school police corruption, plain and simple.
And where oh where was the Mayor of Money with his vaunted accountability mechanisms and technology to root out this corruption?
Oh, right - he was on Bermuda.
As per the usual Bloombergian protocol, this will be somebody else's fault, he'll back Ray Kelly up to the max and blame the corruption on the union and low level cops who "betrayed" him.
But if this scandal is as wide as Murray Weiss in DNAinfo is saying it is, this is so much WIDER than anything involving the union - after all, inspectors, captains, lieutenants, and sergeants are involved too.
This corruption case ought to kick off a wider investigation of NYPD book-keeping itself.
There has already been some evidence that the vaunted NYPD crime fighting machine was cooking its books in some precincts in order to make the data-obsessed Bloomberg happy.
Just as test scores have to go up in schools or principals and assistant principals get fired, so crime stats must go down in police precincts all across the city or the brass are punished.
It stands to reason that if the 500 cops were getting away with fixing tickets and making domestic abuse and drunk driving cases go away in exchange for money, food, booze and hookers, there were also some cops who were making criminal cases COMPLETELY go away in order to cook the precinct books and make everybody in the brass and City Hall happy.
There needs to be an independent investigation into the NYPD books to see just how far down the rot goes into the system and how much the "data-driven" policies Bloomberg has promoted have played in it.
As a report from two academics found in August of last year:
Two academics at an FBI-sponsored conference Friday will accuse the NYPD of cooking the books to make the city appear safer.
The claims are contained in a survey of more than 309 police officers - most of whom have served as precinct commanders since the department started using the CompStat program in the mid-'90s.
More than half of the respondents admitted to fudging numbers, according to the study by John Eterno of Molloy College and Eli Silverman of John Jay College.
The pair of criminologists will also release recordings they obtained from several roll calls that they say capture supervisors telling officers not to take reports of robberies unless the victim is willing to go to the stationhouse.
The recordings also capture officers being told not to take reports if they think the district attorney will not prosecute.
"It's putting people in an unreasonable position," said Silverman, adding that there is growing pressure from top brass to keep the numbers down. "The public needs to understand that crime can fluctuate."
Silverman said the city needs to change how it views CompStat, a program that maps crime so that police can zero in on problem areas.
"It needs to be less number-driven," Silverman said. "You can't just measure [cities] by their crime rate."
The ticket-fixing scandal and the cooking the books scandal may or mey not be related, but as the ticket-fixing scandal grows, it is important that the cooking the books scandal get looked at too.