Fifteen months later, the NYPD can’t find memo about giving out memos

The widely disseminated order seemingly left no paper trail.

Written by Shawn Musgrave
Edited by JPat Brown

In December 2013, the NYPD ordered its 77 precinct commanders to route reporters’ requests for crime reports through the agency’s press office, rather than release these documents directly. So where’s the order itself?

More than fifteen months after MuckRock requested it, the NYPD has a rather familiar answer: we couldn’t find it.

A number of media outlets reported on this order in December 2013, including DNAinfo, Gothamist, Al Jazeera America and The Nabe, the Brooklyn-based blog which broke the story. Gothamist described the order as a “curt memo,” while Amsterdam News classified it as a “note.”

Most of the above outlets printed the same quote, which they attributed as drawn from the order: “Any requests by media to view complaint reports be referred to the office of the Deputy Commissioner For Public Information.”

This was by no means a secret order, then. NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner for Public Information at the time, John McCarthy, publicly defended it as a reiteration of policy that had “been in place for decades.”

“The New York City Police Department’s Patrol Guide clearly states that all media requests shall occur through the Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Public Information (DCPI),” McCarthy wrote in an emailed statement that was printed by several of the above outlets. “Local crime information is available to media and distributed through DCPI, which is operational 24/7 to facilitate press inquiries from the media.”

MuckRock has emailed the NYPD’s DCPI to request clarification as to how this order was so widely disseminated throughout the department without being put in writing.


Image by Ciar via Wikimedia Commons