Will Bratton End NYPD’s Crime News Blackout?

January 2, 2014 | Andy Cush

One month of its instatement, the NYPD’s blackout on local crime news is still in effect. In December, the department stopped allowing precincts to provide information about crime to reporters, instead funneling all requests through the office of the Deputy Commissioner for Public Information, effectively cutting off information about local crime.

Brooklyn Daily and Gothamist dug into the story, and found that the restrictions may have been the NYPD’s ham-handed way of settling disputes between media outlets. “The daily papers got mad because the weekly papers had so much access [to police precincts],” Sgt. Jessica McRorie, a sergeant at the public information office, said. “The big papers always wanted a piece of that and they got cranky when they didn’t.”

A local newspaper editor who wished to remain anonymous named a more specific source, telling Gothamist that local news site DNAinfo is to blame, angering big papers with its ability to cover both precincts and police headquarters. “Sometimes if there’s a problem, the simpler solution is to shut everything down,” the editor said.

Of course, Ray Kelly, who ostensibly presided over the local news ban, isn’t commissioner anymore, meaning change could be nigh. If Bill de Blasio and new NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton are really serious about encouraging “collaboration between police and community,” allowing community reporters to do their jobs would make a good start.