Explain the concept of neighborhood policing compare and contrast this form of policing approach to the traditional methods of the patrol function. ~Random routine patrol ~rapid response to citizen 911 calls ~ and retroactive investigations by detectives of past crimes
Nandi (2018) stated that New York City recorded its lowest violent crime rate in decades in the year 2017. According to the article published in CBS, the country’s biggest police department, the New York Police department, reported significant reductions in crime during that year. It was the first time in over 70 years of the city’s history that murder incidents were lower than 300 and shooting incidents lower than 800 (Nandi, 2018). 2017 also witnessed reductions in other types of crimes including burglaries and cities. At the core of the massive reductions in crime is the introduction of the concept of neighborhood policing by the NYPD (NYPD, 2019). This essay examines the concept of the NYPD neighborhood policing and also presents an evaluation of its working as compared to the traditional or previous method of police functioning.
Background on Neighborhood Policing
Neighborhood policing is founded on the concept of community policing which refers to law enforcing personnel working together with members of the community. Such an approach is based on the police knowing their communities, community members knowing the police, and both groups working seamlessly as a team (NYPD, 2019). However, in practice, there are many challenges inherent with community policing, particularly in a large city such as New York. Bratton (2019) explains that it is not possible for a whole department to engage with neighborhoods and communities because only a small team of the department is assigned to a specific part of the community. The NYPD has always had community-focused officers who work with youth groups and other programs to help prevent crime. Such police officers have acted as a bridge between the NYPD and the community of New York.
Bridging the divide between the community and the police is not enough and the neighborhood policing is intended to close that gap. It is a larger and more comprehensive form of community policing. At the heart of the neighborhood policing plan are the patrol officers who patrol the streets and answer calls. As has been explained, it is a challenge for the police to stay connected with neighborhoods and communities even though they work there every day. Gonen (2018) explains that police officers are responding to calls from all over and have no time to engage with communities. They have been reduced to call answering machines who go from one crime scene to another as their schedule is determined by the radio calls. These police officers have no plan to engage with particular community members and hence get to know them well. Some police departments have attempted to set up separate community policing staffs to perform the function of engaging the community but this has often failed (Abraham & Mercado, 2018). The reasons for the failure of this seemingly effective strategy include rifts developing between community police and those attending to calls, and having few community officers in relation to the large communities they work with.
The Neighborhood Policing Plan
The Neighborhood Policing Plan introduced in the New York Police Department was developed by James O’Neil, Chief of Department (Gonen, 2018). This plan addresses the failings of the general community policing discussed in the above section. The Neighborhood Policing Plan is structured in a way that addresses the key issue with implementing a community policing model: it helps the police officers in New York to remain engaged in their police work and at the same time allowing them to embed themselves in the community and be part of the team with members of community that work to ensure the safety of everyone in the community (Nandi, 2018). Chief O’Neil’s plan was able to avoid the trap of separating community and patrol functions. The plan was to completely revamp the NYPD’s process of conducting patrols so as to make patrol police officers who answer calls also act as community officers who engage with members of the community (Gonen, 2018). The neighborhood policing plan has various admirable salient features as is discussed below.
The NYPD neighborhood policing introduced permanent assignment of a two-officer patrol car to each sector on every shift and if the workload was big two such cars were provided (NYPD, 2019). The traditional patrol practice involved patrol cars patrolling different sectors. However, the new model requires patrol cars to maintain sector integrity as the policing term stipulates keeping the cars in the sectors they are assigned instead of having them respond to calls outside the assigned sectors during the course of a shift (Bratton, 2019). The previous patrol system saw police officers working outside their assigned sectors if a call came through. As such, the officers were working shifts instead of working in a particular neighborhood as is the case under the NYPD neighborhood policing. The new plan requires sector officers to serve every day in their assigned sectors with the same shifts and the same staffing. These officers are also required not to leave their respective sectors during the period they are on duty (Nandi, 2018). While patrolling their sectors, they will answer calls for service and also work proactively to address potential problems in the sectors.
The NYPD neighborhood policing also introduced a completely new set of expectations for police officers on patrol. The officers’ primary work when on patrol include to answer to calls, follow up on past crimes, work as active problem solvers in their allocated sectors, and meet with members of the community (Nandi, 2018). The patrol officers are also required to set aside adequate time to perform to engage in proactive problem-solving activities within their sectors. The minimum time for this activity is set at 33 percent of their time on duty which translates to about 2 hours and 20 minutes out of their 8-hour duties (Bratton, 2019). From this explanation, it is seen that the neighborhood policing plan is intended to promote a problem-solving culture in the police force. This is in contrast to the traditional patrol system which was centered on answering calls and handling the emergencies related to the calls.
Another salient feature of the NYPD neighborhood policing is dividing each precinct within the city into four or five sectors and making sure they are fully staffed (Bratton, 2019). Traditionally, most precincts had 8 to 10 sectors that were not adequately staffed. Because of inadequate staffing, a single patrol car had to cover as much as three sectors in one shift. The NYPD neighboring policing also introduced sector boundaries that follow the actual borders of neighborhoods. This enhances a feeling of connection between the police officers patrolling the neighborhood and the local people. The neighborhood policing also instituted the requirement of each sector having teams of officers that work in three shifts providing coverage throughout the clock with each shift taking 8 hours (NYPD, 2019). Because of this setup, the police officers will get to know their sectors and members of the community, the areas that are problematic, and people that cause problems. On the other hand, members of the community will get to know the police officers attached to their sectors. The connection would encourage the citizens to approach the officers if they have any issues or concerns.
Another change instituted by the neighborhood policing in New York was to assign a precinct-wide team made up of four two-person response cars working per shift (NYPD, 2019). The main purpose of having response cars is to supplement the sector cars and hence ensure quick response times to calls for service. Sometimes, sector officers may be held up in other activities when a call for service is made. Bratton (2019) explains that the response cars will pick up calls for service in all sectors under a precinct any time the sector cars are engaged in other activities or when the sector workload is massive. Having response cars is crucial to the success of the neighborhood policing model as it ensures the police maintain their response times. It also helps police in one sector to avoid providing back up to other sectors and hence enhance sector integrity.
The neighborhood policing plan also introduced the Neighborhood Coordinating Officers (NCOs) posts for each sector. The main responsibility of NCO’s is to identify and manage problems within their sector. In New York, 2 NCOs will be working as a team for each sector (NYPD, 2019). They will monitor crime trends and notify other officers in the sector in regards to their observations. The NCOs are instrumental in leading other officers in addressing the problems faced by the sector. They will organize efforts to remedy issues in their respective sectors and enlist sector officers in putting the corrective plans into action. The NCOs will also be part of a sector team which would also include sector officers, and some members of the community (Bratton, 2019). This would ensure that sector officers are not left to deal with securing the sectors alone. The sector team would offer a layered support system that would help sustain problem-solving efforts from one week to another or one shift to another. The sustained follow through would ensure that officers are aware of present issues affecting the sector and the efforts in place to remedy them.
The essay has explored the concept of neighborhood policing adopted by the New York Policing Department. The cornerstone of NYPD’s neighborhood policing is improved collaboration and communication between local police officers and members of the community. From comparison with the traditional model of patrol function, it is seen that the neighborhood policing has many advantages. The overriding advantage is that the connection created between the police officers and the community members under the neighboring policing encourages them to work together to solve issues in the neighborhood. The citizens view the police as people tasked with ensuring their wellbeing and safety and not just as any other blue uniform. Among other positive outcomes, the collaboration has resulted in improved security in New York City.
Abraham, R. & Mercado, A. (2018). NYPD’s Neighborhood Policing Meetings Aren’t Reaching Intended Audience. CityLimits.. Available at https://citylimits.org/2018/04/24/nypds-neighborhood-policing-meetings-arent-reaching-intended-audience/ [Accessed: May 2 2019]
Bratton, J. W. (2019). The NYPD Plan of Action and the Neighborhood Policing Plan: A realistic framework for connecting police and communities. Retrieved May 2, 2019, from home.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/home/POA/pdf/Plan-of-Action.pdf
Gonen, Y. (2018). NYPD set to have “neighborhood policing” in all precincts. New York Post. Available at https://nypost.com/2018/10/22/nypd-set-to-have-neighborhood-policing-in-all-precincts/ [Accessed: May 2 2019]
Nandi, A. (2018). Neighborhood policing program builds relationships to cut crime. CBS News. Available at https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nypd-community-policing-lower-crime/ [Accessed: May 2 2019]
NYPD. (2019). Neighborhood Policing. New York Police Department. Available at https://www1.nyc.gov/site/nypd/bureaus/patrol/neighborhood-coordination-officers.page [Accessed: May 2 2019]