NYPD Assertive Policing Style
* As recently reported in The Times (“The NYPD: Bigger, Bolder--and Better?” Dec. 24), the New York City Police Department has just completed two years of extraordinary success against crime, recording a decline of 27%. The Times attributed our success to “rough” street tactics and a “new militarism,” which has supposedly taken root in the NYPD, leaving the strong impression that New York is moving away from the community policing approach that Los Angeles is currently embracing.
On the contrary, what you are seeing in New York is not a new police militarism but an assertive community policing, a truly workable way of responding to community crime and disorder problems, neighborhood by neighborhood. The key element in what we are doing is empowering local police commanders and their officers and holding them strictly accountable for local conditions. It is not tough street tactics, but tough-minded management of police resources and sharply focused strategies that have accomplished our positive results.
The NYPD’s supposedly “rough tactics” are, in reality, crime prevention techniques that are quite consistent with community policing: the enforcement of quality-of-life laws, checking people stopped for these offenses for weapons and warrants, and questioning people arrested for minor crimes about major crimes. All these measures, especially the enforcement of quality-of-life laws, are overwhelmingly supported by local communities. Our efforts also include a variety of other community policing techniques, including alliances with community groups, increased bike patrols, youth officers in every precinct and a strategic approach to domestic violence.
The Times piece leaves the erroneous impression that the NYPD may be somehow abusing minority communities. Yet, violent crime is down most steeply in precisely these neighborhoods. Our management of police resources is ensuring that minority communities are finally getting the level of police protection they deserve. People can use the parks and streets again and put their children to bed without hearing the sound of gunfire. We haven’t abandoned the principles of community policing. We are applying those principles to turn the rhetoric of police and community cooperation into the reality of declining crime and rising quality of life for all the citizens of New York.
WILLIAM J. BRATTON
Police Commissioner, NYPD