Washington, DC – A veteran Metropolitan police officer has alleged that the department has misrepresented crime statistics in order to make it appear that violence has decreased in the area in recent years.
The anonymous police source said he has been told to classify felony offenses as misdemeanors in official reports on numerous occasions, WTTG reported.
According to department records, Metropolitan police captains who oversaw districts with the most crime reduction from 2013 through 2017 were also those who were subsequently promoted the most quickly, WTTG reported.
Department of Human Resources information from 2018 indicated that a promotion from captain to commander or inspector could be a minimum salary increase of between $12,000 and $32,000 per year, according to the news outlet.
The officer said the corruption and reclassification of criminal offenses has been going on for years.
"If it's a burglary and someone enters the home, but nothing was taken they'll have us re-classify it as Unlawful Entry which brings the crime down from a felony to a misdemeanor,” he explained.
Misdemeanor offenses are not reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), so those crimes go unreported with regards to the city’s national violent crime statistics.
With regards to shootings, “if the victim doesn’t want to give up any information, then they change it to ‘Injured Person to Hospital,” the officer said.
That reclassification turns the shooting into an “incident,” so it is never reported as a crime for statistical purposes.
WTTG searched through 19 months of police reports and found nearly 3,000 instances that were classified as “Injured Person to Hospital.”
Sixty-one of those incidents were gunshot wounds, and only 11 were believed to be self-inflicted.
Because of the reclassifications, they were not recorded as crimes, and generally no further investigation took place.
The officer also provided WTTG with additional examples of crimes that had been reclassified.
One involved a victim being assaulted with a gun, but was reclassified as an injured person being taken to the hospital, he said.
Another was a forcible robbery that was reduced to misdemeanor simple assault, as well as a burglary that was reduced to misdemeanor unlawful entry.
On another occasion, a carjacking was reclassified as a felony theft, which falls into the category of property crime as opposed to a violent crime.
“We're re-classifying these crimes and we're sending out this falsehood that the District of Columbia is safer than what it actually is,” the officer said.
City Councilmember Charles Allen said that it is not uncommon for shooting victims to be uncooperative with police.
“But from our perspective and, I think for most people, someone who is shot...a crime has taken place, period,” Allen told WTTG.
“If there are efforts to misclassify or reclassify in any way, it’s inappropriate—that’s gonna be wrong, that’s gonna be inexcusable,” he said. “If there are efforts that are there or pressure or otherwise that are having people misclassify and change classifications then that’s a problem and I want to know about that.”
In a statement to WTTG, the Metropolitan Police Department denied having any knowledge of allegations that the department was misrepresenting crime information.
“The Metropolitan Police Department has not been made aware of any allegations of ‘illegitimate crime re-classification’ to ‘lower crime statistics.’ We would consider such an allegation to be extremely serious,” the statement read.
The department later blasted both the officer and the news outlet for allegedly making “very general, sweeping allegations without providing any details,” WTTG reported.
“The unsupported and uncorroborated allegation by one anonymous officer combined with the inaccurate information appears to be either a purposeful or neglectful story created by the reporter to mislead the public,” the agency argued.
The Metropolitan Police Department claimed the news outlet was only provided with 72 injured person to hospital reports, but WTTG insists they were given nearly 3,000 such reports.
On Tuesday night, Mayor Muriel Bowser released a statement letting “whistleblowers” know that they can contact the city’s inspector general anonymously with any concerns.
“Any whistleblower, whatever agency they are MPD…any of the district’s agencies always have an avenue to the Inspector General,” Bowser told WTTG.
“Any employee can contact the inspector general anonymously, if they don’t want to make their names known, so that we can find any instances of waste, fraud, and abuse,” the mayor said.
It was unclear whether the city will open an investigation into the allegations.