Nowadays, the necessity to discard the current policing strategy of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) is becoming evident both for authorities and citizens. The recent cases of tragic police misconduct saw people fleeing to the streets of New York in June. Citizens express their discontent with the current strategy that is deemed to be racist and unreasonably relied on physical force. Despite the downward tendency of crime rates in NY, the community is not happy with abusive policing; thus, legislative and structural changes are necessary to reform NYPD in the immediate future. The NYPD Police Commissioner has to come up with a well-structured plan of action that will address criticized police tactics and mitigate social unrest.
The main problem in terms of the current policing strategy is that it is based on controversial broken windows theory. This criminological theory emphasized the absence of tolerance to petty offenses, such as acts of vandalism and public drinking, because it allegedly provokes citizens to commit similar or more serious offenses. The theory may be accurate in terms of human psychology, but in reality, it resulted in discriminatory treatment of specific communities since its adoption under NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.
The theory has entailed abusive police tactics such as stop-and-frisk that were designed to reduce the illegal carrying of weapons and gun crimes. Although it proved to be effective when used in specific areas, people see it as an unnecessary method that allows law enforcement to act aggressively and detain innocent people (Diep, 2017). Law enforcement professionals predominantly stop African Americans, who often became the subjects of police killings. Moreover, this approach adversely affects other minorities, including homeless people, communities of color, Muslims, immigrants, and LGBTQ people. Another major problem is a COMPSTAT model that is practically forcing policing commanders to apply more and more aggressive tactics to decrease crime statistics of their precincts. As a result, police officers are under pressure from their commanders to be more active and intensify the issuing of summons, making arrests, and stop-and-frisk reports.
First and foremost, the new Police Commissioner should address earlier mentioned strategy’s elements replacing them with possibly less effective but also less controversial ones. The stop-and-frisk tactic should be immediately abolished, and anti-crime units of the department have to be disbanded. It is a top priority move because, during the lawsuit in 2013, the court estimated that 80% of detained suspects were Latinos and African Americans (Winter et al., 2020). It remains the main reason for public discontent that ignites current mass protests and riots. Such a decision made by NYPD Commissioner will mitigate public tension and may contribute to the crime rate stabilization. However, the hot spot approach that targets places where crime is most concentrated should be adopted instead. It helps to combat law violations in the short-run and, what is more critical, rarely generates backlash from the community.
Overpolicing of neighborhoods of color for minor offenses proved to be a racist approach; thus, it has to be abandoned next. Police Commissioner should push for issuing more civil fines that can replace highly criticized measures of remanding people to detention. The infamous incidents involving police killings of Eric Garner and George Floyd Jr proved that the main issues arise when officers make efforts to handcuff a suspect.
Another problem is that NYPD often ignores civilian complaints about an officer’s misconduct. In reality of today’s social upheaval, officers who received a high number of complaints would be placed in reserve to deal with administrative tasks without receiving any additional payment. On the contrary, law enforcement professionals that adequately fulfill their tasks without complaints should be rewarded with choice assignments and gold shields. Moreover, new leadership at the top and the command level has to be appointed to ensure that the transformation process does not face any obstacles.
Another important step is to refrain from the COMPSTAT model. The problem-oriented policing would have superiority over excessive physical force in curbing crime growth, as it takes into consideration the voices of communities. This policing requires the identification of a particular problem in a community and the development of strategies to solve it (Diep, 2017). It usually increases neighborhood members’ satisfaction with the actions of officers. The idea behind it is not to keep minorities in fear of brute force but to assist in bolstering the quality of their life that should result in the crime rate drop.
Furthermore, the NYPD Commissioner should support the Mayor’s idea to cut the department’s budget. The more peaceful and tricky approach may allow saving funds that can be then invested in local infrastructure and communities’ well-being. Section 50-a of the State Civil Rights Law must be reformed to increase the NYPD’s accountability and ensure that officers are properly punished for misconduct. The package of reforms presented by the Council includes the ban of chokeholds use by law enforcement and disclosure of data collected by surveillance. These initiatives also should be supported by authorities and NYPD leadership.
To conclude, mass protests and public outrage revealed the chronic issues of the NYPD’s strategy. Police Commissioner has to address issues regarding controversial tactics and simultaneously stop the current growth of shooting and murdering. The COMPSTAT model, stop-and-frisk, discriminatory profiling, and use of brute force that is based on broken windows theory should be abandoned and replaced by problem-oriented policing and the hot spot approach. The leadership that is ready for leading transformation, law reforms, and community investment will normalize currently high crime rates and will restore public trust.
Diep, F. (2017). What strategies work best in policing? Pacific Standard. Web.
Winter, T., Dienst, J., & Stelloh, T. (2020). NYPD is disbanding a unit that is the “last chapter” of stop-and-frisk. NBC News. Web.