The edits were linked to the NYPD very easily. The mistakes made by the editors are made every day by new editors and are incredibly easy to identify. More importantly, while those editing may have had good intentions, they brought a large amount of negative attention to the NYPD.
For the rest of time, it's well documented, on Wikipedia and off, that the NYPD tried to white wash public information about itself. Whether or not the person or people responsible were directed to edited Wikipedia by the NYPD is unclear and frankly, it's irrelevant in a court of public opinion. The damage is was done in minutes and with a few key strokes.
As we've discussed in the past, editing with a conflict of interest, otherwise known as COI editing, can be very difficult. While doing so is difficult, getting caught and causing problems is incredibly easy, as seen in this case with the NYPD.
Wiki Consulting Services can assist you or your organization in engaging Wikipedia and its editors in a discussion about the content found there. Let WCS use its years of experience editing Wikipedia and specifically dealing with conflicts of interest. We've spent years helping our clients correct and improve information found on the world's most used source of information and enjoy doing it. Let us help you so that you can avoid issues and reach a realistic goal. Without help, you may end up with a situation on your hands like the NYPD did.
Update: After it was discovered that the NYPD was attempting to whitewash Wikipedia articles, people went looking to see what other police departments were whitewashing. It was quickly discovered that the San Diego Police Department was also whitewashing entire sections of Wikipedia articles about SDPD misconduct.
The edits were made by department owned internet connections months before the NYPD editing came to light. This just goes to say that even if you get away with trying to anonymously whitewash articles for period of time, you could be caught due to the actions of others.