NY Police Editing Wikipedia

The first ethical issue would be 1 Police Plaza using a popular webpage to alter statements for their own benefit. Although Wikipedia is deemed an unreliable source by many...
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photo credit to Marcie Casas via flickr

The first ethical issue would be 1 Police Plaza using a popular webpage to alter statements for their own benefit. Although Wikipedia is deemed an unreliable source by many institutions, in a Google search of any of the people involved in this scandal, Wikipedia is in fact the first webpage displayed. 1 Police Plaza intentionally turned to an often used site to change information in regards to police brutality in an attempt to mislead people about the truth. On December 3, the Staten Island grand jury ruled not to indict New York Police Department officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner. Hours after this, a 1 Police Plaza user made numerous edits to the “Death of Eric Garner” Wikipedia entry. These edits include the statement “Garner raised both his arms in the air” changed to “Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke” and also “Use of the chokehold has been prohibited” changed to “Use of the chokehold is legal, but has been prohibited.” Very simple edits such as these completely change the situation. This was done simply for the benefit of the police officer involved to make the officer’s response seem more justified.

Another incident involves Sean Bell who was killed on November 23, 2006 by an undercover New York Police Officer who fired 50 times at three unarmed men. Less than a year later, a user on 1 Police Plaza’s network attempted to delete the entry “Sean Bell shooting incident.” A user also wrote on Wikipedia’s internal “Articles for deletion” page, “He [Bell] was in the news for about two months, and now no one except Al Sharpton cares anymore. The police shoot people every day, and times with a lot more than fifty bullets. This incident is more news than notable.” To say that no one cares about the death of Bell is disreputable; every life matters. This particular officer completely dismissed this case as if this innocent man’s life had no value. Another edit to this same case was made changing “shot” to “shot at,” in an attempt to lighten the incident.

Amandou Diallo was killed by police in 1999 when they mistook his wallet for a gun. Another user at 1 Police Plaza made two edits to a sentence involving NYPD Officer Kenneth Boss who was a part of the shooting: “Officer Kenneth Boss has been previously involved in an incident where an unarmed man was shot, but remained working as a police officer” was changed to “Officer Kenneth Boss had been previously involved in an incident where an armed man was shot.” Diallo was in fact unarmed but the statement was changed to “armed” so the killing of this innocent man could be somewhat justifiable. How are we supposed to trust those responsible for our protection when in reality they will do only what it takes to protect themselves and don’t mind throwing innocent people under the bus for the sake of their own reputation?

On June 30, 2006, a user deleted 1,502 characters from the “scandals and corruption” section of Wikipedia’s “New York Police Department” entry, including a sentence that claimed “at the end of March 2006, NYPD started to make changes to this very article in an attempt to censor scandals and corruption information.” They are definitely censoring scandals and corruption, but ironically enough it is their own scandals and corruptions amongst themselves. The NYPD’s mission statement reads as follows: “The mission of the NYPD is to enhance the quality of life in NYC by working in partnership with the community to enforce the law, preserve peace, reduce fear, and maintain order.” In my opinion, they have failed at their mission in entirety. There is no partnership because they are only worried about their own well-being. If they wanted to preserve peace and reduce fear, they would be honest with the members of their community instead of belatedly lying to their faces. There is absolutely no order in the NYPD or there wouldn’t be such corruption in their own department. They claim to “impartially enforce the law,” but rather are breaking the law and trying to cover it up by wrongfully putting the blame on innocent people. If we are all said to be equal, then we should all face the same consequences for our actions.

1 Police Plaza is only after its own well-being, and will do whatever it takes to protect its reputation. Unfortunately, this includes putting the blame on those who are dead because of police misconduct. It seems like every day there is a new story about police brutality on the news and too often the perpetrators are not charged. How is justice supposed to be served when the people in control of our criminal justice system are corrupt?

Ethics Alerts (Op-Ed)
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