New York City Streets
Today, political posturing to gather votes has often found politicians invoking the term” Community Policing”, implying that there should and must be posted police officers on every street corner n New York City is also wishful thinking. Those luxurious days are no more and will hardly come back to New York City Streets, when the same legislators are the same ones that are imposing draconian budget cuts on a police department that is overburdened and operating with uniformed personnel short of almost 6,000 men and women in uniform.
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Compounding this problem is the unfortunate and tragic incident of 9/1 1 during which over 3,000 men and women including NYPD, FADDY personnel and innocent civilians lost their lives to terrorist attack by AL-QAEDA operatives, thereby creating a new level of fear and mistrust between uniformed police personnel and civil society in communities throughout New York City. Not helping the situation is the proliferation of illegal drugs, guns, mental health issues and chronic unemployment amongst youths that quite frequently feel under siege by public safety personnel for truant behaviors during public encounters with law enforcement personnel.
The irony however is that almost eighty percent of all homicides on New York City Streets are caused by almost 90 % of black and brown peoples against each other. In the meantime, Law Enforcement personnel and administrators are expected to provide public safety to over 8. 3 million people residing in neighborhoods throughout New York City streets. All of these challenges in today’s policing have continued to deepen the divide between law enforcement and civil society, highlighted by the most controversial issue of “Stop, Question and Frisk” policy of the New York City Police Department.
Therefore, holding instilling a program to promote officers who have a proven track in accountability amendable to promoting good relations through proactive community management, while effectively enforcing the law will go a long way in rebuilding trust between uniformed personnel and civil society. 2. Recruitment: We must develop a police department that is diverse in its hiring and retention practices that is typically New York City. I should however note that the police department is making every effort to address this issue and is gradually making progress. Considering an NYPD that will soon become a majority minority force, it is wise for the NYPD to plan against the future now.
In that regard, we must develop a mechanism that analyzes and racks the recruitment process, particularly as it relates to the psychological and background investigations on potential candidates. The NYPD has lost far too many potential candidates through these processes. 3. Mutual Trust- We must recruit retired veterans of the military service, particularly minorities that have had an honorable discharge record and history in promoting effective community engagement and relationship building with at risk youths during their tenure in the NYPD. These individuals could serve as mentors to the new recruits assigned to New York City streets. Such personnel could be embedded with credible civilians with a history in bringing people together to solving and addressing community problems.
Together, these individuals will in partnership with essential stakeholders in diversified communities develop a series of community intervention model programs that will be built around promoting effective community engagements that will ultimately build trust between uniformed personnel and civil society. 4. Revisit the bias profiling definition of NYPD. For example, when an officer, whether intentionally r unintentionally applies personal or societal, organizational biases or stereotypes in making a decision or taken police action, it quite often based on their personal biases and or orientation. To assist the officer to make informed decisions in taking police action, better training on cultural awareness and sensitivity will undoubtedly assist the officer in making a ” good Judgment call during “stop and frisk encounters”. 5.
Utilizing Technology to address Stop, Question and Frisk: NYPD has invested enormous amount of resources in technology to address public safety challenges. We could engage civil society, uniformed personnel, civic leaders, legislators, retired public safety officers, police unions and legal practitioners in working through a comprehensive program that will address the protection of civil liberties while also enforcing the law on New York City streets. The goal here is to have parties that have philosophical disagreements over public safety to sit in one room to work out a reasonable solution to this problem that has divided communities. We can solve the problem through mutual respect and understanding. 8. Blocking the Creation of a
NYPD Inspector General: I do not see the creation of an outside inspector general to be an effective method in facilitating an effective community-policing program. The NYPD operates within a unilateral culture, where our collective safety is protected through unified action according to existing rank and file. As a proverbial outsider who has worked effectively from within this structure, I have seen the potential collaborative issues this environment can create. Take Los Angels for example, which appointed the first Inspector General in 1995, who soon left in 1997 scourged the department’s unwillingness to cooperate with her oversight responsibilities.
Seen as a disruption in the existing chain of command, many believed the implementation of an inspector general in Los Angels directly contributed to the most notorious instance of internal police corruption and selective evidentially cooperation in the country, the Rampart Scandal (Reese, Rendered, Rampart, Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, Spring, 2003, Cal Poly Pomona Political Science Department). Since 2000, in response to Police-DAD cooperation issues uncovered during Rampart, the discovery powers of the inspector general in LA have been increased to mirror that of the commissioner; but a 2005 federal probe of the new powers actually found an increase in the discriminatory policing the New York City Councils recommendation is looking to combat (including disparate stops by race and failures in use of force and community complaint investigations by the inspector).
Thus, in my view vesting commissioner-like power in such an inserted position, would subject the NYPD to high profile second guessing, and overly attendant scrutiny given the oversight the department already receives from two US attorneys, five Dads, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the Department of Investigation, the Commission to Combat Police Corruption and a 700-member Internal Affairs Bureau. Our policing solutions must be tailored to create more opportunities of community collaborations and combat any remnants of a blue wall of silence. 6. Mandating the creation of a Borough-specific and active Police Commissioner’s Advisory Board that will meet with civic, youth, interfaith and business leaders to iscuss public safety issues in their respective communities at least once a month. The participants selected to serve on such a board must be carefully vetted and community residents. These individuals must also be actively involved in the community precinct councils in their communities. 7.
Fund and implement a borough focused Stakeholder community intervention program that will address the issues of gun violence; Job placement and career opportunities; family counseling; micro business development; community youth patrol; faith-based and spiritual counseling ND academic opportunities in at risk communities affected by youth gangs and violence. The success of such a program would require a meaningful partnership with corporate sector partners in New York City. By implementing these recommendations that I have outlined in this article, perhaps activists, civil rights advocates, labor unions, uniformed personnel will once and for all realize and appreciate that we are all New Yorkers, committed to reducing crime and saving lives in our communities, while ensuring that civil rights and liberties are enjoyed by families living or visiting New York City.