Some useful context for the ridiculous feud between former NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly and current NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton over the department’s alleged manipulation of crime statistics: the practice was so bad under Kelly that the city may soon lose $4.6 million over it.

Just before Christmas, Kelly said in a radio interview that an apparent decline in major crimes in New York this year was the product of massaged numbers. According to the ex-top cop’s theory, Bratton’s NYPD intentionally misrepresented the nature of arrests it made in order to make the city seem safer. This is fairly common practice in big police departments, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to learn that it’s happening under Bratton. But it’s difficult to take the criticism seriously when it’s coming from Kelly.

Several sources alleged during and after Kelly’s tenure as commissioner that the department routinely mucked with crime reports under his leadership. One of them was Adrian Schoolcraft, a Brooklyn NYPD officer who leaked tapes of high-ranking officers discussing manipulating stats and enforcing arrest quotas to the Village Voice, which published excerpts from the recordings in a series of stories in 2010. After Schoolcraft presented his complaints to NYPD officials, he was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward for nearly a week—a stay that he claims happened against his will.

Schoolcraft sued the city, and reached a $600,000 settlement plus benefits and back pay in October, but the payouts may not be finished yet. The New York Daily News reported yesterday that his attorneys are seeking $4.6 million in fees from municipal coffers for the case. (The city is required by law to pay plaintiffs’ legal fees when it settles a suit.)

With Kelly currently braying to anyone who will listen about his successor’s alleged underreporting, the news couldn’t have arrived at a better time. It’s very possible that both men in this dustup are guilty as charged—the Los Angeles Times recently reported on large-scale stat manipulation at the LAPD during a period that includes Bratton’s time as chief of that department—but only one of them is costing NYC taxpayers tons of money because of it.

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