Capitol New York
Computers operating on the New York Police Department’s computer network at its 1 Police Plaza headquarters have been used to alter Wikipedia pages containing details of alleged police brutality, a review by Capital has revealed.
“The matter is under internal review,” an NYPD spokeswoman, Det. Cheryl Crispin, wrote in an email to Capital after examples of the changes were presented to the NYPD.
The edits and changes were linked to the NYPD through a series of Internet Protocol addresses, or IP addresses, which can be publicly tracked by various websites. (Here, for example, is one website that shows a number of IP addresses registered to the NYPD.) IP addresses can locate where a computer is when it connects to the Internet.
Computer users identified by Capital as working on the NYPD headquarters’ network have edited and attempted to delete Wikipedia entries for several well-known victims of police altercations, including entries for Eric Garner, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo. Capital identified 85 NYPD addresses that have edited Wikipedia, although it is unclear how many users were involved, as computers on the NYPD network can operate on the department’s range of IP addresses.
NYPD IP addresses have also been used to edit entries on stop-and-frisk, NYPD scandals, and prominent figures in the city’s political and police leadership.
There are more than 15,000 IP addresses registered to the NYPD, which employs 50,000 people, including uniformed officers and civilians. Notable Wikipedia activity was linked to about a dozen of those NYPD IP addresses.
On the evening of Dec. 3, hours after a Staten Island grand jury ruled not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, a user on the 1 Police Plaza network made multiple edits, visible here and here, to the “Death of Eric Garner” Wikipedia entry. The edits, all concerning the actions of Eric Garner and the police officers involved in the confrontation, are as follows:
● “Garner raised both his arms in the air” was changed to “Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke.”
● “[P]ush Garner’s face into the sidewalk” was changed to “push Garner’s head down into the sidewalk.”
● “Use of the chokehold has been prohibited” was changed to “Use of the chokehold is legal, but has been prohibited.”
● The sentence, “Garner, who was considerably larger than any of the officers, continued to struggle with them,” was added to the description of the incident.
● Instances of the word “chokehold” were replaced twice, once to “chokehold or headlock,” and once to “respiratory distress.”
Read more here.