The world of policing is one of constant change. As far back as the early days of Peel ian police philosophy the missions and goals of police departments have constantly been altered. In our diverse communities and cites worldwide we see police departments engaged in very different forms of policing. Even across the many jurisdictions that operate within our nation we see departments that run at the very opposite ends of the policing spectrum, with some acing in extreme public service roles and others involved in aggressive crime fighting ideologies. These different approaches are all based of what the police identifies as the needs of the community. As constant research is conducted in the field of policing, departments adopt new policies and programs.
As new technologies arise they too are incorporated into law enforcement. The New York City Police Department like any other department in the world is constantly changing and adapting its policies to conform to that of new technologies and trends in law enforcement. One of these policies that has been put into use in recent years has been that of a community policing initiative. Finding its roots in police-community relations policies of the 50's and 60's, community policing is a philosophy that seeks to form a partnership between the police and the community. Through this bond the community can fully identify its needs and work together with the police to battle crime as well as many other services that do not fall within the traditional roles of policing. All of this is aimed at taking a proactive approach to crime.
Its basis is simply trying to work with the community to identify its problems and fixing them before they escalate or lead to crime. Community policing is far different than any other philosophy seen in policing. Although throughout history, "there have been sporadic variations in the underpinnings of American law enforcement, its substantively has remained a legal-bureaucratic organization focusing on professional law enforcement (Gaines and Kappeler, 2003 p. 476) ". This legal-bureaucratic set up of the American police department has it as an agency concerned with statistic and numbers. The outputs of policing that include number of arrests, volume of recovered property, number of citations issued, response times and the other stats of policing play a more important role than the end result of policing (Gaines and Kappeler, 2003).
This view of law enforcement has led to the police filling a fully reactive role and not paying attention to the underlying problems that cause crime in an area. A more in depth view of community policing can show how it attempts to fulfill its proactive philosophy. First, Community policing aims to broaden the function of the police. According to Gaines and Kappeler (2003), the police must move away from their traditional role as crime fighters. They should incorporate a much broader role that uses fear reduction and order maintenance. Gaines and Kappeler (2003) identify prior research that has shown that crime as a product of social conditions.
These social conditions can be manipulated and changed by the quality of life and social conditions in an area. So in affect, the police cannot actually fight crime, they can really only fight the conditions that cause crime by maintaining order, and therefore "bettering" the social conditions in a community. As for the concept of fear reduction, Gaines and Kappeler (2003) point out the fact that fear has a far worse effect on a community than does a crime rate. The fear of crime causes people to stay in their homes, takes away commerce in an area, and causes psychological affects on people.
Gaines and Kappeler further their finding here by identifying a little known fact-more often than not, people's fear of crime is not related to the crime rate in their area. Many programs that promote fear reduction also lead to the second step of community policing, which is citizen input. In the past, the police have implemented programs that have involved the citizens of their area. However, these programs did not truly take into account the citizens needs.
The programs involved in the police-community relations push of the 50's and 60's although paying attention to the community and its wants and needs, did not really fulfill them (Gaines and Kappeler, 2003). Community policing furthers the community's involvement in policing where these predecessors fell short. Departments involved in community policing programs use surveys, meeting and others tactics in order for the citizens to voice their cares and concerns (Gaines and Kappeler, 2003). This data that is taken can then be used to evaluate the publics perception of many facets of police work, including efficiency of programs and the publics perceived fear of crime.
The goals and priorities of a department can then be molded and shaped according to the community's feelings. This system opens up two-way communication between the public and the police, which greatly differs from traditional professional models where the police "brass" dictate the programs and policies of the department (Gained and Kappeler, 2003). The final concept philosophical dimension of community policing is that of neighborhood variation. This concept deals with the traditional way the police view their jurisdiction. The traditional professional model of policing forces officers to ignore discretion and police every neighborhood of their jurisdiction in the same way (Gaines and Kappeler). The shift that community policing implements in this area is that it identifies the various neighborhoods and areas of a political jurisdiction as separate and unique.
These areas all have their own problems and expectations of the police. This way of looking at certain neighborhoods is really breaking it down to a community level. As Settles (1972) points out, citizens develop "cognitive maps" of certain area that they designate as theirs. More often than not, a neighborhood is defined similar ethnic or religious groups and socioeconomic factors. Therefore, these similar groups all develop particular expectations about what the police should be doing in their areas. They also identify behaviors and actions that they see as acceptable or unacceptable (Gaines and Kappeler, 2003).
Community policing takes these values into account in its mission of policing a certain area. Serious crimes and felonious behavior will always be punished, however more minuscule infractions of the law that the neighborhood sees as acceptable may be looked over (Gaines and Kappeler, 2003). However one looks at the philosophy of community policing, it is far different than the traditional professional model of American policing. Another emerging police philosophy is that of local commander accountability. Departments nationwide have realized that different areas within their jurisdiction have very different problems and that these problems lead to crime. In 1994, under Police Commissioner William Bratton, the New York City Police Department began a new program that identified crime problems in specific areas.
The system itself is known as Comp Stat, short for computerized statistics. It is a shift away from traditional policing in which departmental programming and strategy are handed down from the hierarchy of the department to the precinct commanders. The NYPD brass realized that " precinct commanders are in a far better position than Headquarters executives to appreciate and meet the particular needs of their communities and to direct the efforts of the 200 to 400 officers they manage" (NYPD Chief's Website, n. d. ). Precinct commanders also are in a better position than the beat cops they supervise to understand the department's aims and policies and to harmonize those with the social dynamics of their precincts area. To bring this to fruition, the NYPD change many of its operating procedures and regulations (NYPD Chief's Website, n. d.
). Along with this new found increase in power and discretion of programming and enforcement for precinct commanders, came accountability for the rates of crime in their respective areas. This new philosophy began with the creation of the Comp Stat Unit, a division of the Chief of Department's Office. The Comp Stat Unit is responsible for the daily activities that surround the Comp Stat philosophy.
Every week, personnel from each of the city's 76 precincts, 9 Service areas and 12 Transit districts compile data that reflects a summary of crime complaints, arrest and summons activity as well as locations of all of this data. This information is then sent on to the Chief's Comp Stat unit and entered into a database that analyzes the data and produces a Comp Stat report for the City. The reports show levels for each precinct, each borough and the city as a whole (NYPD Chief's Website, n. d. ). The data on the report is set up in a week to day, prior 30 day, and year to date format, including comparisons to the prior year. Each week a Crime Control Strategies meeting is held where all precinct commanders as well as the top hierarchy of the Department meet and discuss the findings of these statistical reports.
Precinct commanders are held responsible for shifts in crime within their jurisdictions and are put on the spot in front of fellow brass to come up with possible solutions to the changes. The process allows top executives to carefully monitor issues and activities within precincts and operational units, to evaluate the skills and effectiveness of middle managers and to properly allocate the resources necessary to reduce crime and improve police performance (NYPD Chief's Website, n. d. ). Also in attendance to these meeting are outside agencies such as representatives from the District Attorney's Office, the Division of School Safety, etc. This fosters a team approach to problem solving and gives the precinct commander the necessary support needed to reduce crime and quality of life issues with a minimal amount of bureaucratic "red tape" The process allows top executives to carefully monitor issues and activities within precincts and operational units, to evaluate the skills and effectiveness of middle managers and to properly allocate the resources necessary to reduce crime and improve police performance (NYPD Chief's Website, n. d. ).
The Comp Stat bureau also compiles what is known as a Commander Profile Report. These reports are also updated on a weekly basis and profile the precinct commanders and there actions citywide. The allow the Department hierarchy to scrutinize the decisions that commanders make as well as many other variables The process allows top executives to carefully monitor issues and activities within precincts and operational units, to evaluate the skills and effectiveness of middle managers and to properly allocate the resources necessary to reduce crime and improve police performance (NYPD Chief's Website, n. d. ).
The reports include such specifics as ranks held, education and special training. They also hold valuable information regarding sick time of officers within that precinct, vehicle damages, and the amount of overtime generated in his or her respective precinct. This profile as well as being helpful to supervisors at NYPD headquarters is used as "motivational tool since the subjects of these profiles are obviously aware that the same objective criteria is being used to evaluate their peers, therefore they can monitor and compare their own success to that of others in meeting the established performance objectives" (NYPD Chief's Website, n. d. ). Comp Stat has lead to great reductions in crime citywide. Many police jurisdictions nationwide have introduced their own forms of this program into the daily operations of their departments.
However, Comp Stat leads to an aggressive style of policing. When precinct commanders are held responsible for rising crime rates in their precincts they more usually respond in a "get tough" fashion. In areas where crime rates are on the rise this causes a gap between the police and the community they serve. A concern with crime statistics can lead the police to pull away from the bonds they have formed with the public and abandon community policing.
The ideologies of community policing and that of Comp Stat are two very different ones. The question that has come into light now is how to make these two philosophies co-exist in a single department, if they even can. Recommendations I believe that Comp Stat and community policing can exist in New York City. There just has to be some policy changes in each of the philosophies. First off, for community policing to truly work in New York, the NYPD must put all of its resources into it. Community policing will not flourish if it is used in a part time fashion, it must be all or nothing.
My first recommendation in this area would be to reduce some of the specialization in the NYPD. Officers that are super specialized in areas have really lost touch with the community. I am not saying to end all specialization, that would be a disaster in the making, we just need to reduce some of the officers assigned to specialized units. Those officers that are pulled of specialized duty should then be brought back to the streets and placed on either beats or in cars.
My second recommendation arises here as well. Gaines and Kappeler (2003) recommend geographical permanence to a certain extent, and I fully agree with them. Officers need to be placed in a single geographic zone for an extended period of time. Even if they are in patrol cars, they have to get out at some point and after being in one area for a long time will begin to see familiar faces amongst the resident community. This will hopefully lead to a familiarization with community members, the activities of the area, and the social problems the residents face. In the grand scheme of this proposal, after an officer has been stationed in an area for some time, hopefully they will become a part time resident of that area and take pride in it, which will lead to a better safeguarding and even an officer trying to fix social problems along with community members.
This should not stop with officers however. Precinct commanders should be encouraged by their supervisors to go out into the community. The accountability that Comp Stat places on the command staff in a particular area can be brought into play here. As Gaines and Kappeler (2003) point out, once there is geographic accountability, then officers and units will respond more effectively to citizen and neighborhood needs and demands. Comp Stat is as I see it almost a fully reactive program.
As crime rates rise in a certain area, the commanders of that area, in an effort to save face often implement very aggressive policing of those areas. Of course arresting the primary offenders lowers the crime rates and the commander is then praised for his success in lower crime. However, I feel that this alienates the police from a community. If the police implement aggressive tactic in an area, the public often perceives this in almost a military sweep. The cops are seen as the bad guys that only come in to arrest the criminals and then go on their way to other high crime areas. If Comp Stat identified the high crime areas and then used community policing tactics to permanently rid the underlying problems of crime in that However the hierarchy of the New York City Police Department chooses to deal with these two new tactics in policing will change the course of our city.
I feel that while both valuable tactics, the NYPD should stress its role in community policing. If the police continue to adopt aggressive styles of policing and continue to alienate themselves from the community, they might find themselves being hated by the city they protect. I think that Comp Stat has been a valuable tool for New York to lower its crime rate, however I think it fosters reactive and aggressive tactics. Unless it is changed or abandoned, the police will continue to widen the gap between themselves and the public.