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27 Feb, 2020 17:24

Whistleblower cops accuse DC police of downgrading crimes to look better on stats

Whistleblower cops accuse DC police of downgrading crimes to look better on stats

Crime rates in Washington DC may be much worse than official reports indicate, as the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) routinely miss-classifies felonies as misdemeanors, skewing results, two whistle-blowing cops allege.

In at least two cases, internal police documents seem to back the accusations voiced by Sergeant Charlotte Djossou and Officer Tabitha Knight.

The first reportedly happened in August last year. A woman asked a man outside a liquor store to buy her some water, and he responded by slashing her face and neck with an unidentified object, the incident report said. The investigation decided it was not an “assault with a dangerous weapon” but rather a “simple assault.” While the former is a felony carrying a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, the latter is a misdemeanor with a term of only up to six months.

The second case involved a domestic incident in December, when an argument between a couple escalated to the point where a man held a knife to his boyfriend’s neck while screaming profanities, a police report said. Again, the incident was classified as a simple assault.

Documents related to the cases as well as internal MPD emails detailing the process of changing their qualification were submitted by Djossou and Knight to DC Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety. They also testified on what they believe to be an attempt to underreport crime for the sake of better statistics — but a promised follow-up interview has not materialized, they told local outlet WUSA9. 

The MPD and the committee chair did not respond to questions from local reporters about the accusations levelled by the whistleblowers.

The issue with crime underreporting in DC is hardly unknown. In a 2018 report, Fox News said burglaries in Washington were routinely investigated as unlawful entries, and robberies as simple assaults. A person sustaining gunshot wound would be reported as “an injured person to hospital” even when the injuries were obviously not self-inflicted.

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The two whistleblowers claim that, while many other officers agree with them that the problem is pervasive, few are willing to speak out in public.

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