By Kelly Weill
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.