The New York City Police Department is one of the oldest and largest municipal police departments in the United States of America. As its name suggests, the agency is responsible for serving the community of New York, a city with a population of over 8.5 million people. Among this city’s population, 32% are whites, 29% are Hispanics, 24% are blacks, 14% are Asians, and the remaining 1% are native Americans (NYC, 2022). The New York City Police Department (NYPD) has a diverse force of approximately 35000 police officers and 19,000 civilian support personnel (NYC, 2022). The department’s personnel consists of 45% Whites, 30% Hispanics, 15% blacks, 10% Asians, and 0.1% Native Americans (NYC, 2022). The NYPD has over 70 patrol zones, with detectives and officers covering the whole city (NYC, 2022). Since its operations, the NYPD has policed the city by performing several roles related to public safety, traffic management, emergency response, law enforcement, and counterterror.
The NYPD and Six Pillars of 21st-Century Policing
Building trust and legitimacy is the first pillar of the task force report. It is the central principle that outlines how law enforcement agencies should relate to and with the communities they serve to build the public’s trust in the agency. One of the significant weaknesses of the NYPD concerning this pillar is its notorious culture of police brutality and discrimination based on race and sex. The guilty officers virtually face no serious consequences for their actions, and the public, especially communities of color, does not have confidence in the agency’s policing work. (Ganeva, 2021). Despite this, the NYPD police have strength in the amount of value, support, and trust they have amongst each other.
The second pillar of policing emphasizes establishing policies that reflect the values of the community. It highlights the importance of law enforcement agencies collaboration with community members, especially in areas disproportionately affected by crime. The NYPD employs several civilians to help in their policing work. This shows their community involvement in policing, which helps improve their police work. The law enforcement agency also has strict policies on racial profiling, use of force, and mass demonstrations (O’Brien, 2021). The weakness, however, lies in the failure of the police officers to follow these policies, as the department has had several cases of police misconduct and crime.
Pillar three of 21st-century policing is centered on using technology to improve policing practices and encourage community trust and legitimacy. The NYPD’s advances in technology have improved the capabilities of officers to perform their duties. An example is the introduction of police cars which has increased the mobility of police officers. Today, the NYPD’s helicopters and motorboats complement even more powerful police vehicles equipped with video cameras and global positioning systems (Ganeva, 2021). A significant weakness in this pillar is the effective use of these technologies to ensure fairness and justice to the community. Although the NYPD has implemented these modern technologies, some of them are rarely used effectively. For instance, video cameras put on police attires to record encounters with the public are rarely used as evidence, especially in cases that involve police brutality.
Moreover, the fourth pillar focuses on community policing which includes working with residents to coproduce the public’s safety at large and reduce crime. It emphasizes working with community residents to identify issues and implement solutions that bring about meaningful results for the entire community (President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, 2015). One major weakness of the NYPD is its officers’ use of law enforcement tactics that stigmatize and encourage the marginalization of specific communities. This includes racial profiling, which stigmatizes blacks, regardless of age, and marginalizes their participation in schools. However, this is not the case for all youths, as most of the population often encounter positive youth-police interactions.
The NYPD has also significantly invested in the fifth pillar, police training and education. This has ensured their police force can address many challenges such as immigration and international terrorism. However, the law enforcement agency has a weakness in the engagement of community members in such training activities. Another major strength of the NYPD lies in the sixth pillar (officer wellness and safety). The department has ensured flexible shift lengths for police officers to help improve their wellness and ensure a work-life balance. However, the department has failed to ensure officer safety. This is visible in the several cases of police killings in the line of duty that the NYPD has faced. Regardless, this is not a strong weakness as the percentage of deaths in the line of duty is not significant. This has positively impacted the agency’s legitimacy as it proves the NYPD’s investment in ensuring the safety of its employees and the community at large.
Specific policies need to be implemented to address the NYPD’s weakness in police brutality and discrimination. A good policy would be to run performance checks (monthly or yearly) for police officers based on the number of complaints filed against them. This policy should be accompanied by severe consequences for those officers found to have several cases of discrimination and brutality. This will strengthen police legitimacy as it will ensure the public gains trust in their officers by giving police officers a sense of responsibility and accountability for their actions. According to the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing (2015), the public confers legitimacy on those they believe are acting in procedurally just ways. Therefore, this policy will help ensure that police officer are kept in line such that they act in ways acceptable to the public.
Ganeva, T. (2021). NYPD cops accused of racism, sexism, and homophobia cost the city $500,000 over four years. Web.
NYC. (2022). About NYPD. Web.
NYC. (2022). Reports and statistical analyses. Web.
O’Brien, R. (2021). 60 criminal cases are thrown out because of 3 detectives’ misconduct. Web.
President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. (2015). Final report of the president’s task force on 21st-century policing. Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.