NYPD caught trying to remove references to police brutality from its Wikipedia page
Getty

It’s getting harder to rewrite history in the digital era, as the New York Police Department discovered this week as a Twitter account caught someone seemingly within their premises in the act of altering a Wikipedia page to remove references to police brutality.

A bot that tracks edits made to Wikipedia articles from IP addresses inside 1 Police Plaza, NYPDh headquarters, clocked an edit tothe entry about the department itself yesterday.

As reported by Gizmodo, the bot captured a device with the IP address 206.212.133.17 rewriting a particularly significant section of the article, which previously read:

The NYPD has an extensive history of police brutality, misconduct, and corruption, as well as discrimination on the basis of race, religion and sexuality.[9][10][11][12][13][14] Critics, including from within the NYPD, have accused the NYPD of rampantly manipulating crime statistics (“juking the stats”).[15][16]

The NYPD has a culture of retaliation against whistleblowers; in one such prominent instance, in 2009, NYPD officer Adrian Schoolcraft was abducted by his fellow officers and involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric hospital after he provided evidence of manipulation of crime statistics (intentional underreporting of crimes) and intentional wrongful arrests (to meet arrest quotas).[17][18]

 The NYPD has strongly resisted attempts at criminal justice reform.[16] The 2020 George Floyd protests created significant pressure to reform the NYPD and its practices. The June 2020 Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act reformed certain aspects of the NYPD.[19]

Yet post-edit, the paragraph was heavily sanitised, instead recounting:

The NYPD has an extensive history of reducing crime in the most diverse city in the country. The Operation impact program, which placed new police officers in high crime areas to combat the growing street violence using the broken windows theory was reformed in January of 2014[9].

The NCO (Neighborhood Community Officer) program was then created to bridge the gap between the community and the NYPD, a comprehensive crime-fighting strategy built on improved communication and collaboration between local police officers and community residents. 

Neighborhood Policing greatly increases connectivity and engagement with the community without diminishing, and, in fact, improving the NYPD’s crime-fighting capabilities [10]. These new age methods in combination with uniformed patrol and plain clothes units who were responsible for 95% of the illegal firearm and recovery and arrest of individuals subsequently reduced the city’s crime rate[11][12]

All the efforts taken by officers during this time were thwarted during protests amid the police involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis[13]. The NYPD anti-crime unit was disbanded in July of 2020 amid protests[14][15]. Although the community calls for the defunding and abolishment of the NYPD [16] the members continue to protect the city. 

City council members have blamed the increase in shootings and homicides on the Mayors decision to cut funding, which they backed up [17][18].

References to police brutality were removed, celebrations of NYPD policing methods were put in and BLM protesters were seemingly blamed for “thwarting” the efforts of NYPD officers to fight crime. 

Quite the different perspective.

Wikipedia editors quickly restored the original text and references to police brutality though.

The clumsy attempt to improve the NYPD's public image was ridiculed by social media users, who quickly suspected the institution as responsible for the edits.

People found it darkly amusing.

Others noted their tenacity in editing the entry.

And there was general bafflement they thought the alterations would go undetected.

Well, the editor could have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for those meddling bots.

Another case cracked.

Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)