01/05/2011 04:39 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Commissioner Kelly Says New Panel Will Review NYPD Crime Statistics

The New Year reliably brings a slew of statistics about New York City's poverty levels, employment and crime rates.

But critics are charging that recent low crime rates are less than accurate, and may have been manipulated in order to present the NYPD in a flattering light. Most recently, the 81st Precinct in Brooklyn was accused of downgrading felonies to misdemeanors, ensuring lower major crime rates. According to the New York Times:

Some critics say the department has fomented a numbers-driven culture that has created a focus on officer activity, including issuing summonses and making low-level arrests. Police officials have long denied the existence of a quota system, but said that officers are expected to meet performance goals.

Last February, in an academic survey, more than 100 retired captains and higher-ranking officers reported that they were aware of instances of "ethically inappropriate" changes to crime complaints in the seven major categories of felonies measured by CompStat, though the department has repeatedly disputed the methodology of that survey.

On Wednesday, police commissioner Raymond W. Kelly announced the creation of the Crime Reporting Review Committee to combat fraudulent crime stats reporting. The committee will consist of former federal prosecutors who will be given access to all pertinent Police Department records. After three to six months of significant training and insight into the department's internal crime-reporting system, the panel is expected to present their assessment of the current state of affairs.

Critics told the New York Times that they are dubious of the way the panel was created, stating that if Kelly had wanted an entirely fair assessment than what was "truly necessary was an independent outside agency to look at this and not one that is designated by them."