Wikipedia is a great online resource for just about any topic you can think of. But, you have to remember that anyone can edit articles on the site, which means that people and organizations could potentially add their own slant to stories that involve them. Recently, it was discovered that the NYPD has been doing just that for quite a while now.
For the past several years, a multitude of changes have been made on articles concerning NYPD misconduct and controversial police brutality cases such as those involving Eric Garner, Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo. The IP addresses associated with the changes lead back to the NYPD's network.
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.
IP addresses associated with the NYPD have also been used to make a lot edits that have nothing to do with policing. They cover topics as varied as the Catholic Church and the British band Chumbawamba.
In many cases, the NYPD computers were making changes that added a different slant to the story. For instance, in the "Death of Eric Garner" article, a user on a NYPD IP address changed “Garner raised both his arms in the air” to “Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke.”
An NYPD user also attempted to delete a page about the controversial NYPD shooting death of Sean Bell that took place in 2006.
“He [Bell] was in the news for about two months, and now no one except Al Sharpton cares anymore. The police shoot people every day, and times with a lot more than 50 bullets. This incident is more news than notable,” the user wrote on Wikipedia’s internal “Articles for deletion” page.
Sometimes the changes appear to provide clarification. In 2012 and 2013, several changes were made to the article on the "Stop-and-frisk" article that added additional explanation of the policy and how it is implemented.
“The rules for stop and frisk are found in New York State Criminal Procedure Law section 140.50, and are based on the decision of the United States Supreme Court in the case of Terry v. Ohio” was added to the entry.
Wikipedia has a system of checks and balances in place that allows other users and Wikipedia's editors to revise articles to add new information or remove information that may be inaccurate or misleading. Many of the changes made by NYPD users have since been removed from the "Death of Eric Garner" article.
“COI [conflict of interest] editing involves contributing to Wikipedia to promote your own interests, including your business or financial interests, or those of your external relationships, such as with family, friends or employers,” Wikipedia states in its behavioral guidelines. “COI editing is strongly discouraged.”