City Police Departments Term Paper

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City Police Department

Police departments are professional organizations comprised of men and women who are empowered by society to serve as the guardians of society's well being. Organizations of professionals are characterized by extensive and continuing professional training, shared and understanding of and commitment to the values of the profession, and the desire to improve their communities. This paper discusses a city police department that has demonstrated great success over the years -- the New York City Police Department (NYPD).

Founded in 1845, the NYPD is the biggest municipal police force in the world, the oldest in the United States, and the model on which the other city departments have patterned themselves (Larder and Reppetto, 2000). From a population of about 33,000 in 1790, New York City rapidly became a city of nearly 400,000 by 1845. The old constable system, which had policed New York since the days of the Dutch, was unprepared for a new set of policing problems, including growing slums, rising crime, and frequent rioting. The need for a police force based on the English paramilitary organization, with uniforms and a chain of command, was met by the development a municipal police force in 1845 with an initial force of 900 men. Police officers served one to two-year appointments and often worked directly for politicians. George W. Matsell, a bookseller, was named the first chief of police. The early years of the Department were a period of challenge to bring public order, characterized by dissension, division, corruption and reform.

Theodore Roosevelt, an honest leader, first brought reform to the New York City Police Commission in 1895, setting the standard for today's NYPD (Larder and Reppetto, 2000). During his two-year appointment as president of the Police Commission, Roosevelt recruited more than 600 men solely based on physical and mental qualifications, rather than by their political affiliation. Roosevelt also opened up admission to the department to ethnic minorities and hired the first women.

According to Larder and Reppetto (2000, p. 142): "Today, the NYPD is one of the largest municipal police departments in the United States covering the City's five boroughs: Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, or roughly 320 square miles. With an annual budget of $2.4 billion, there are over 39,000 uniformed officers of all ranks and approximately 9,000 civilians, which now includes the City's traffic enforcement agents. Thirty-nine percent of all uniformed members of the service are women and minorities, a number that has steadily increased in the last decade."

Mission and Objectives

According to the NYPD web site (2004), the department's mission is to "enhance the quality of life in our City by working in partnership with the community and in accordance with constitutional rights to enforce the laws, preserve the peace, reduce fear, and provide for a safe environment."

The department's main goal is to collaborate with the community to:

Protect the lives and property of our fellow citizens and impartially enforce the law;

Fight crime both by preventing it and by aggressively pursuing violators of the law;

Maintain a higher standard of integrity than is generally expected of others because so much is expected of us; and Value human life, respect the dignity of each individual and render our services with courtesy and civility.

Administrative Structure

The Police Commissioner is the leader of the NYPD, working a five-year term and reporting directly to the Mayor (NYPD, 2004). The next top two officials are the First Deputy Commissioner, who is a civilian, and the Chief of Department, the highest-ranking uniformed member of the service. The NYPD's organizational structure includes nine major bureaus: Patrol Services Bureau, Detective Bureau, Organized Crime Control Bureau, Transportation Bureau, Criminal Justice Bureau, Internal Affairs Bureau, Personnel Bureau, and Support Services Bureau. Under the Patrol Services Bureau, New York City's five boroughs are divided into eight Patrol Borough Commands, which is further subdivided into seventy-six precincts. Twelve Transit Districts and nine Housing Police Service Areas patrol subways and large housing complexes.

In 1994, the NYPD changes its overall tactics, in an effort to engage in a "department-wide, full-scale, strategic attack on crime and quality-of-life issues in New York City" (NYPD, 2004). As a result, the city today is safer than it has been in thirty years, and the safest large city in the United States, according to recent FBI statistics. Its historic crime reduction is the result of innovative management changes, including the implementation of a system to hold senior managers accountable. The modern NYPD is armed with the tools needed to better analyze crime trends.

According to NYPD (2004): "New York City and the NYPD remains committed to building on its current successes through the creation of additional strategic policing initiatives designed for the 21st century."


There are many basic regulations that NYPD officers are required to follow. Most of these regulations are based on the hallmarks of courtesy, professionalism and respect (NYPD, 2004). These rules are in place to ensure positive relations between the police and the community while enhancing officer safety. To succeed in its mission to reduce crime and improve quality of life, the department has established a variety of guidelines, procedures and regulations to educate its members about their proper role as public servants who fairly and impartially enforce the law.

Police Advisory Board, which is made up of community representatives, advises the department on issues of courtesy, professionalism and respect.

The NYPD is dedicated to the enforcement of the laws, rules and regulations, which provide for the city's safety, security and overall well being (NYPD, 2004). NYPD police officers are carefully chosen and given the best training in order to meet the department's mission. The NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) guards the Department's reputation, enforcing its regulations.

The New York City Police Department is interested in the welfare of all persons and in taking action where its staff has neglected or done wrong their duties. If a complaint is brought against an NYPD office, the IAB investigates allegations of corruption and serious misconduct. During the investigation, witnesses and officers are contacted and asked to give statements. Records and other evidence are collected and analyzed.

If the investigation of a complaint reveals that the charges are true and should be sustained against a police officer, the Police Commissioner may take one of the following actions, depending on the nature of the violation (NYPD, 2004).

Reprimand the employee.

Loss of vacation time.

Suspend the employee without pay.

Demote the employee.

Terminate the employee.

Rules and regulations are an important part of virtually every aspect of organizational life. For this reason, the NYPD requires extensive training for both new recruits and seasoned personnel. For Managers of the NYPD are employed with many tools of control and socialization. "Until recently, departments kept officers in cars to prevent 'contamination' by citizen contact, and regulations prohibited cops from making drug arrests, so as to forestall seduction by the mountains of money involved in drug dealing (Kelling, 1995). A central 911 emergency call system screens requests for police service to ensure that individual officers aren't asked to do improper things. A powerful, secretive internal affairs bureau penetrates every nook and cranny to guard against corruption. And police administrators have tried to restrict cops to dealing with only the most serious crimes, since enforcement of laws against minor crimes like panhandling and disorderly conduct plunges patrol officers into ambiguity and requires them to exercise considerable discretionary judgment."


All city police departments have an interest in improving the way the community perceives them. For this reason, police departments prioritize the following three initiatives: performance measurement; quality improvement; and customer service (Tos, 2000).

Police departments are measured by their city's crime rate. Therefore, the NYPD utilizes a management and control system that measures both the valued output and the cost of producing it, both the financial cost and what is sacrificed in civil liberty. This measurement system helps the department to maintain legitimacy in the eyes of the citizens. Without legitimacy, the police cannot provide crime control, security or justice.

Another concern of the NYPD is focusing attention on authority as an asset (Tos, 2000). There is a trade-off between successful crime control and the protection of civil liberties and development of good community relationships. Therefore, the NYPD aims to reduce crime and enhance security without violating civil liberties or losing community satisfaction. These ideas of quality assurance lay the foundation for community policing.

Community policing provides ways to control crime while lessening the potential for unfavorable relationships with the community, and while developing police-community relations through education of the community in crime-control strategies.

The leaders of the NYPD understand the focus must be on satisfying the residents of New York. However, the goal of providing service to a citizen often conflicts with the service to the city as a whole. For example, when an officer arrives on a call, they notify dispatch that they are on scene and out of service. After the call is complete, they notify…[continue]

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