School of Continuing and Professional Studies
Table of Contents
1.0 Introduction. 1
1.1 Dilapidated Facilities. 1
1.2 Unprofessional Conduct of Recruitment Officers. 2
1.3 NYPD’s Lack of Acknowledgement of the Problems. 3
1.4 How Lack of Professionalism affects civilians.
2.1 NYPD lack of recognition of the problem.
2.2 Data Manipulation by the NYPD.
2.3 NYPD Does Not Represent the Diversity of New York City
3.1 Need for Cultural Diagnosis.
3.2 Establishment of Focus Groups.
3.3 Use of Questionnaires.
3.4 Looking at the Issue of Staffing.
3.5 Training of Supervisors.
3.6 Independent Monitoring.
3.7 Comments from Previous Employees.
3.8 Case Example.
4.1 Getting Rid of Corrupt Officials.
4.2 Changes in the Mode of Recruitment.
4.3 Recruitment Officers to Behave Professionally.
4.4 Upgrading Dilapidated Equipment.
4.5 Adequate Training.
4.6 Public Participation in the Recruitment Process.
4.7 Media Involvement in the Recruitment Process.
4.8 Legislation Governing the Recruitment Process.
4.9 Change in the Way Psychologists Carry Out their Analyses.
5.0 Conclusions, Recommendation and Personal Reflection.
5.1 Observations and Recommendations.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) is the second largest Law Enforcement Agency in the United States and, it is the largest municipal force. NYPD’s functions are law enforcement and conducting investigations within the five boroughs which make up the City of New York. The NYPD was established in the year 1845. It dates back to 1625, however, when New York City was known as New Amsterdam. (Wilson & Grammich, 2009). The NYPD is a combination of different forces which include Transit Police and New York City Housing Authority Police Departments the latter of the two being integrated into NYPD in 1995. The NYPD offers a number of services such as air support, criminal intelligence, public housing, narcotics among others. The department’s mission is to “enforce the laws, preserve the peace, reduce fear, and provide a safe environment.” The department consists of officers as well as support staff..
The NYPD has been faced by many problems since its inception. The department needs to overcome many obstacles in order to live true to its mission. The department has a division called the Division of Recruitment. The recruit processing division is charged with the important task of determining who gets to join the NYPD. The task of recruiting for the NYPD does not reach the required standard and, there is need for an overhaul. This paper examines the problems affecting the department of recruitment processing (RPD). The paper analyses the source of the problems and, their impact on policing. Eventually, the paper makes suggestions that would help to professionalize the NYPD if enforced.
I am grateful to my Thesis Advisors and Professor. I am indebted to them for the useful insights they gave while I was writing this work. Their input was useful in helping me to come up with the topic and also giving me guidelines on how to go about researching in such a difficult field. I am also grateful to my family who gave me useful insights on how I would improve my research and to cohort 117 for keeping me motivated. I appreciate those who read through my drafts and gave me tips on how I would improve my work.
I am also very grateful to Manhattan College School of Continuing and Professional Studies for offering the resources which made the research for my thesis easier.
The New York Applicant Processing Department (NYPD) is within the New York Police Department. The primary role of the division is getting candidates suitable for employment in the NYPD. This is a critical department since it sets the tone for policing processes. It goes without saying that, this process should be handled with the utmost care and professionalism (Wilson & Grammich, 2009). Lack of professionalism can be described as what characterizes this division which carries out a very delicate task. It is a delicate task because it determines whether people who apply are right for the job, which is critical for the NYPD’s role of fighting crime.
The NYPD is the United States ‘ largest law enforcement agency. The NYPD is charged with five boroughs, which make the city of New York. Being among the oldest police departments means that it should be the pace setter as other departments are likely to follow what the NYPD does. Having the reputation of being among the oldest police departments could also mean that the NYPD has established its own unique practices and traditions. These practices could be the Department’s Achilles heels because the department has failed to move on with time to reflect the best management practices in policing.
1.1 Dilapidated Facilities
The first stage for a person to be selected as an officer with the NYPD is the application process, whereby, the department requires a person to submit many details about themselves. The department goes through the application and determines who meets the requirements for the job. However, it is not a guarantee that those who meet the requirements get shortlisted for the positions. The department invites the shortlisted candidates for an interview. The first surprise to be experienced by aspiring police officers and women is the location of the interview. The location of the interview is typically dirty and dilapidated. (Thomas, et al, 1997). It is true to state that, the first impression lasts. During the first interview, the department introduces the interviewees to an unsightly arrangement. These conditions show lack of seriousness on the part of the police department and the candidates get the first ‘dose’ of unprofessional behavior. Before the interviews, all candidates have expectations of how the place should look like. When the candidates get set for the interview, the department does not meet their expectations, and they realize that high standards should actually be the exception rather than the norm.
1.2 Unprofessional Conduct of Recruitment Officers
The department requires the applicants to the force be punctual, have all the required documentation and in addition, be in proper attire, which is official. One would think that, it is only natural that the interviewers match what they require of the candidates or even surpass those standards that they set for the candidates. The investigators do not adhere to these requirements, and it appears to be the case of preaching water and drinking wine. The interviewing personnel are not properly dressed which leads the candidates to take lightly their assignments as police officers (Umranikar, 2009).
The interviewers use inappropriate language during the interview process. The use of foul language gives the impression that use of foul language is acceptable. It is demeaning when the police officers who are interviewing yell and shout and at times curse the candidate they are interviewing. The NYPD believes in standing for courtesy, professionalism, and respect and, these are the words that one finds printed on many vehicles in the department. The behaviour by the interviewers gets interpreted by the candidates that, in future, they can shout at civilians rather than speak to them courteously. It is important to note that, human beings tend reciprocate actions. In computing, there is the concept of garbage in garbage out (GIGO). The ideas that the department implants into the young minds determine to a large extent what kind of officers they turn out to be. The sad reality is, when courtesy, professionalism, and respect do not guide the recruitment process, then these words lose their meaning and, they lack a difference from any other decorations on a car.
Another outcome of this is that, candidates tend to think that this part of their processing as serious. It is vital that the department set the standards and, adhere to them from the beginning. This makes the candidates understand what the department expects of them; thus, they tend to put it to practice.
1.3 NYPD’s Lack of Acknowledgement of the Problems
The NYPD fails to acknowledge the lack of professionalism exhibited during the processing of candidates to join the force. This means that, the problem cannot be dealt with appropriately because the department does not agree that such problems occur. One of the reasons why everything appears okay is that, this manner of processing has been the norm for a very long time and is acceptable as normal. Any reasonable organization sets out its standards very clearly, and this is what attracts respect from other organizations and members of the public. The NYPD appears reluctant to strive towards achieving the ideal. The major concern for the NYPD appears to lean more towards ensuring that they have the officers required for policing. Apparently, the quality of such officers does not bother the department. It could also be seen as an issue of trying not to use money at the expense of the quality of products it places in the market, the police officers.
Professionalism ranks top in the list of requirements of an organization. It beats logic for anyone to think that an organization lacking in this area can attract serious people. The obvious answer to this is that likes tend to attract. In this context, we can conclude that the NYPD is likely to attract and retain people who lack in the areas that the department lacks, the key being professionalism (Thomas, et al, 1997). The department, by requiring candidates to meet higher standards before the interviews, sets in the minds of prospective candidates that the department shall require such candidates to meet high standards in their duty. When candidates come to realize that standards do not really matter, then they tend to have the tendency of being lax and this eventually gets reflected in the overall performance by the department.
At times, it appears as though a candidate for the police job is the one conducting the interview. The investigator relegates himself to the role of answering queries from a candidate while ordinarily it should be the other way round. An interview process led by a candidate cannot produce the right people for the job. Such kind of behaviour demonstrates inadequacy in training on the part of the investigator entrusted with the task of recommending suitable candidates for the positions which the department seeks fill.
Professionalism refers to the ability to ensure that the department meets high standards whenever it conducts matters of business. Professionalism also as a matter of necessity involves strategic planning. The first step is acknowledgement of the problem. The step that follows is drawing a plan for addressing the deficiencies that exist (Umranikar, 2009). Therefore, an organization should come up with a good plan of action and there should be mechanisms in place to ensure that in future audits exist, so that, anything that might go wrong gets corrected in good time.
1.4 How Lack of Professionalism Affects Civilians
In the City of New York, a rift exists between the NYPD and civilians in New York. The department is supposed to be respectful and professional. These attributes lack meaning in the police departments. Police officers in New York do not care about the welfare of civilians. For example, officers almost always refuse to take explanations, and civilians are issued with tickets regardless of the fact that the violation by such a civilian was unintentional and could not be foreseen. This kind of behaviour removes the human face which should be the hallmark of any police department worth its name (Wilson, 2010). A police officer ordinarily has discretion which should be exercised cautiously. An officer at work ought to provide assistance to the general public rather than hinder the proper running of the organization’s day to day activities. Instances arise where civilians make unintentional mistakes, and it behoves a police officer to correct such a person and teach him or her, what is required.
As mentioned earlier, every car in the NYPD has three great words printed on it: courtesy, professionalism, and respect. There is no respect and professionalism when an officer shouts at civilians. Officers at the NYPD are known for yelling at civilians. This attitude is not acceptable especially by members of the disciplined forces. One gets surprised when an officer shouts regardless of the fact that the violation committed is a minor one. This behaviour tends to portray people who see themselves, not as law enforcers, but the law themselves.
It is not difficult to confirm the allegations levelled against the NYPD. A visit to Chinatown in Manhattan clearly shows the level of impunity by the NYPD. The police officers park their personal vehicles wherever they wish without considering the welfare of others. Since the police officers have permission to park anywhere, they cannot be given tickets by their colleagues. An officer charged with enforcing traffic rules will thus ordinarily issue a ticket to the ordinary New Yorker and exempt his or her colleagues and this behaviour smirks of abuse of power (Wilson, 2010).
Police officers at the NYPD are prone to giving tickets to innocent people. It is common for one to find envelopes, normally orange in colour, placed on trucks belonging to companies offering courier services. Police officers issuing such tickets fail to take into consideration the leeway allowed to drivers to Double Park while delivering parcels to customers. Police officers issue tickets at parking meters. Officers tend to be unwilling to allow a driver to feed a meter which is expired.
The major topic in American law enforcement in America today focuses on the decline in crime achieved in New York City since the year 1993. According to New York mayor’s office, the city of New York is the safest large city in the United States.
As per the NYPD, the number of crimes reported for major crimes declined by 65.99% in 2003 when compared to the levels experienced in 1993. This figure was said to represent the lowest number of complaints with regard to seven major crimes since the year 1963. Among the crimes where we had numbers declining include; murder, robberies and rapes. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR) data for the year 2003, the rate of Index Crimes in New York was 211 out of 230 American cities. This drop in crime rate was noted as a significant improvement from January to June of 1996 when the city of New York was ranked in position 144. The crime rate figures suggest that, among the biggest ten cities in the US, New York had the lowest total Index crimes per 100,000 people.
As cadets, the officers who at a later date are involved in recruitment, might not have had the necessary training more so on diversity. The NYPD training is based on materials which are offensive. The materials used for training officers could stereotype people based on gender, religion or ethnic background. Training by use of such materials only helps to make relations between races sour. Recruiting officers who have been through such a system can never be expected to behave prudently while they are going through their recruitment activities (Prenzler & Ransley, 2002). Recruiting officers tend to use vile language against recruits from certain religions or ethnic background. This state of affairs does not help in professionalizing the police force.
This chapter looks into the obstacles present in the New York Police Department; thus, prevent implementation of changes.
2.1 NYPD Lack of Recognition of the Problem
The NYPD does not recognize that there are numerous problems dogging its selection process. The other argument would be that if at all this problem has been noted then no one is willing to acknowledge it is there. The leaders at the top echelons of the NYPD could be burying their heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich when faced with danger. Another possible explanation for this sorry state of affairs could be the obvious outcome of the culture which they have found and adapted. The saying that one cannot teach old dogs new tricks would come in handy here (Kassin, 2005). The NYPD has actually been in some form of self-denial and has gone to the extent of doctoring reports.
There have been incidences of downgrading crime. Exposure of NYPD’s internal audit report shows a culture developed to make a crime appear less serious than it actually is; thus, paints a picture that crime rates are going down. Social scientists have conducted researches mostly by interviewing some of the retirees from the NYPD. The interviewees have given personal experiences on the pressure they receive to decrease the number of serious crime and downgrade other crimes into the category of unreported. Scientists report three in every four of those interviewed reported knowledge of incidences of manipulation of reports on crimes. Researchers have found astonishing results indicating that practices of manipulating crime figures still exist.
One crime victim offers an insight as to what transpires within the ranks of NYPD. The victim’s allegations are corroborated through a letter apparently written to her by the department. The NYPD asks for a specific form of documentation which the victim is supposed to present before any steps can be taken with regard to the complaint. The information required by the department includes; a letter regarding the complainant, a notarized company affidavit and copies of credit report (Kassin, 2005). NYPD’s requirement of all this information clearly shows behaviour which is totally unacceptable.
A victim for attempted rape indicated having had a horrible experience at the hands of the NYPD as she tried to report the sex crime. One detective details his experience of a self-confessed rapist who admitted to having committed a number of acts of rape. The detective found some shocking information which was that all the previous rapes that the man had confessed to have committed appeared on the records as minor crimes.
2.2 Data Manipulation by the NYPD
Data from the hospitals paint a different picture from what the NYPD reports. Emergency rooms are experiencing increasing cases on assaults using firearms. The reports from the NYPD point to the opposite direction, being that assaults have gone down dramatically. The New York City Department of Health suggests that drug use is on the rise while NYPD data on an instance of reported cases of drug use shows a downward trend.
All these manipulations of figures indicate that the NYPD has a culture problem which needs to be investigated immediately. There are cases of too many victims who never get to have their cases heard and determined by courts of law. The terms transparency and community partnerships appear to have no relevance in the operations of NYPD. The NYPD and the mayor are all in complete denial (Orrick, 2008). The police from New York are in the habit of investigating people who are not suspicious and the most affected are members of the Islamic faith.
2.3 NYPD Does Not Represent the Diversity of New York City
The NYPD fails to represent the diversity of New York City. African Americans represent about 31.6% of the population while Hispanics make up about 20.3%. The statistics from the NYPD paint a grim picture because the African Americans form 15% of the force. Generally, the trend observed is that minority groups are underrepresented in the police force. Figures show that as years go by diversity of the force has gone on diminishing. The number of African American recruited into the force continued to decline rather than increase. Even when people of color are recruited into the force, they rarely get into command levels. The application process is partly to blame for the disproportionate representation of people of color and also women. People of color are generally perceived as not qualified to serve in the police force and are made to deliberately fail the requisite exams. There are many methods which the recruiters use to eliminate people of color. The method used includes checks on a person’s background and tests by a psychologist.
Though NYPD’s recruitment campaign has encouraged people from all races to apply, this goal has not been achieved. The campaign’s failure is surprising bearing in mind that millions of dollars have been spent. The explanation for this sad state of affairs is that minority groups in the city are rarely if ever, included in the advertising campaigns. Other astonishing figures are that a majority of NYPD officers do not live in the boroughs that make up New York. These are the same communities that the policemen should serve. Police officers living in boroughs would be familiar with residents. This would lead to such officers learning more about how things are done in the communities, and they would play a bigger role in ensuring that there are safer neighbourhoods. This would result in residents understanding the important role played by the officers, and they would create an environment of trust.
In the year 1994, the then mayor of New York directed William J. Bratton, the Police Commissioner, to prioritize reduction of crime, disorder and fear in the City of New York. The Commissioner was required to carry out his assignment with a very high level of integrity. Giuliani adopted about six strategies were adopted to combat crime within his first year in office (Nickerson, 1996). The strategies were meant to address drugs, guns among others. During the same period the top layer of management of the NYPD was changed. The NYPD abolished one level the command chain and a new team of precinct commanders got power to change their tactics to suit the conditions they were faced with in a given locality. A series of meetings were organized to discuss ways in which crime could be controlled. The management would measure the progress in war against crime and disorder. For NYPD to be transformed into an agency which is guided by integrity, a task force needs to be formed and assess the whole organization from the top right to the junior most officer, a cadet.
3.1 Need for Cultural Diagnosis
There is an urgent need for a Cultural Diagnosis of the NYPD so that it can be established what impediments exists that can prevent organizational change. Some of the things that exist in the NYPD include self-protection, secrecy, exclusion, and organizational fear. Officers in the frontline exist in a negative organizational culture. These officers feel somehow detached and removed from the Headquarters (Orrick, 2008). Officers far from the headquarters feel that they are less respected and trusted. This kind of feeling demotivates officers and no one would want to join a force where their efforts are not appreciated. The officers on the frontline, who also happen to be junior officers, have a feeling that the system is designed to protect those in top echelons of power in the NYPD. Thus most of the time junior officers feel that they are unfairly criticized while the proper recipient of such criticism would have been their bosses.
3.2 Establishment of Focus Groups
There is an urgent need to come up with focus groups which are made up of all levels of police officer which should be facilitated by the Department. A reengineering process should be started with the aim of changing all the systems of the organization which should reflect the mission of the department. These teams should include people who are experts and drawn from outside the Department. The focus of such teams should be careful analysis of recruitment, training, integrity among other relevant issues in the Department. The teams should come up with recommendations which the Department should consider adopting.
3.3 Use of Questionnaires
The Department could design questionnaires. These could be distributed to members of the Departments, mostly junior officers. The questions should address the various issues which are relevant to the Department (Orrick, 2008). The questionnaire could be made electronic and make it easier for members to fill and have no fear of victimization since total anonymity would be assured. It is also necessary that members of the public are also involved and the Department should design questionnaires which try to capture the expectations of members of the public (Gilovich, et al, 1998). This process would be more successful if it is run by an independent body and its finding made public as this would encourage the Department to implement the outcomes.
The Department has also been dogged by internal problems. There are instances where jurisdictions are shared with accountability being split. Confusion is bound to exist as to who then is responsible for any aspects or a given case. With regard to recruitment, there ought to be clear structures as to the specific people who are involved and such people ought to be properly trained in handling their tasks.
3.4 Looking at the Issue of Staffing
The issue of staffing also needs to be looked into. For the vetting process to be successful, then the Department should employ enough people to effectively vet all the people and ensure only the most suitable candidates get into the training for NYPD. Personnel in the recruitment process should receive relevant training. Most of the people involved in recruitment do not have specialized training as to how they should conduct recruitment.
The members of staff at the Department make use of outdated equipment. The computer systems used cannot meet the needs of the Bureau and thus cannot allow adequate management of the cases. The Department should be able to share information with other law enforcement agencies. This would aid the Department in weeding out candidates who are unsuitable for service in the Department due to their previous history which might not be very pleasant.
The NYPD suffers from mechanisms which ensure supervision and this is what contributes to incidents of brutality, corruption and general misconduct. There are factors which can be identified as leading to this sad state of affairs. The ages of supervisors and their subordinates are close (Kelling, et al 1996). New sergeants in NYPD at times lack experience about the streets. The Department also experiences personnel shortage which means that, even specialized units act like ordinary units and, to make matters worse, such units have inadequate training.
There is a strong feeling among those in the lower ranks that their supervisors are weak leaders. Junior officers generally tend to have the feeling that their immediate supervisors lack the relevant confidence which makes them not apt in handling situations on the streets. The fear of the supervisors also extends to their response in dealing with officers who are corrupt.
3.5 Training of Supervisors
The NYPD training on supervisors has many inadequacies. The training of senior officers leaves out lessons on how one would hand tricky situations and controlling personnel under them when they are to conduct searches. The examination administered on newly promoted supervisors could be a small multiple question test. The penalties for failing the test for one to qualify for promotion does not provide enough safeguards to ensure that incompetence is deterred within the Department.
Surveys conducted show that about 45% of patrol officers and much less for lieutenants and sergeants stated that given a second chance, they would choose to be in the NYPD. This clearly shows that the officers themselves lack confidence in the Department and consequently this is the same culture that they pass on to newly recruited members of the force. Evaluations have shown that an average officer in the Department had very few arrests. The senior officials in the force discouraged the junior officer from arresting people, except in the presence of such supervisors, for fear of scandals arising. Poor performance in the force could also be attributed to the reward and punishment system in the NYPD. Very few officers are ever fired for poor performance and the junior officers feel that more often than not, promotions and performance are not interlinked (Kelling, et al 1996). This has the effect of discouraging officers from performing to their level best and prospective candidates would have no motivation to join such a force where quality of your input is disregarded.
Criminologists Eli Silverman and John Eterno in An article claim that NYPD’s Crime Stat Manipulation a Factor in Recent Corruption Scandals.
Incidents of ticket fixing, corruption and a host of scandals involving the NYPD reinforce the arguments of those who believe that the Department is not able to police itself. Incidents of corruption in the Department have restarted calls from quarters such as the media, the politicians and the government for external monitors to exercise oversight over the Department’s fight against corruption.
3.6 Independent Monitoring
Independent monitoring though necessary is not sufficient. This oversight, on its own, cannot deal adequately with the problem because the main cause of problem is ignored. The NYPD’s performance management system on crime strategy- Comp stats and manipulated crime statistics cause the dilemma. In the year 2005, a Commission established in the mayor’s office with the aim of fighting corruption was frustrated when it tried to look into statistics of crime. The Police Commissioner held his ground insisting that investigating crime statistics was outside the purview of the Commission. The Commissioner’s act led to the panel’s chair resigning.
The NYPD finds it difficult to reform itself because of the support it has on their crime management system which has many flaws. A major problem with NYPD has been reliance only on statistics of crime without really caring how those numbers are arrived at. At times crime control is the main goal and police officers can do anything to ensure that they achieve their objectives (Kelling, et al 1996). The police headquarters at times issues the minimum number of arrests that an officer should make. This strategy results in the unfortunate result that the most affected people are the minorities. The manipulation of the data by the Department makes the public to be cynical about the Department. When senior official manipulate data on crime, this undermines efforts aimed at creating an atmosphere of integrity and it is also illegal practice to engage in.
3.7 Comments from Previous Employees
Retired NYPD Commanders attest to the fact that when Compstat began operation in the year 1995, senior officials found it more desirable to downgrade crimes. The NYPD commanders would record a crime to be misdemeanors while in the real sense a felony had been committed. Crime management appears to be the only benchmark against which the Department’s performance is measured. This behaviour of concentrating only on crime figures leaves out other important factors such as control of corruption. Police leadership is primarily concerned with statistics of crime that they report in public and it does not entertain examination of its internal operations. NYPD does not entertain questions being asked about corruption in its internal operations. The same Department still expects members of the public to accept its unreasonable conduct of stopping and questioning people in ways which are more often than not, illegal.
Training is central in ensuring that a culture of integrity develops and is maintained in the force. The training of officers should include training on ethical behaviour. The Department needs to dedicate resources to ensure there is leadership development in its rank and file (Rivera, 2008). The Department would do well by encouraging its employees and those who are in training to discuss issues revolving around integrity with the aims of having such employees understand why it is so important to be a person of integrity. Quality of education should not be overemphasised. The Department should develop a curriculum which should be revised every so often to make sure that it is responsive to current needs.
The Department needs to address accusations of corruption among its officials. In the same breath it is important that the policing environment is re-examined to ensure that it does not tolerate corruption. The Department ought to clearly indicate what it expects of the departmental employees. This would aid in such employees knowing what is acceptable of them and what is not. The Department should encourage openness so that people are able to express their view and this would go a long way in ensuring that better ways of preventing corruption are developed.
Internal structures of the Department influence the level of performance by its officers. The structure should have a system which provides for checks and balances so that acceptable behavior is exhibited and service delivery is not inhibited.
All members should be taught as to what the basic values of the Department are. The Department should put in place mechanisms to ensure that everyone in the organization embraces these basic values. Teaching of the values should be made on a continuous basis since people tend to forget whenever something is not said again and again.
There is need to disengage politicians and politics from running the show for the Department. The politicians should stick to their role of making policies while the NYPD implements the policies without undue interference. The Department should spare no effort in polishing its image and perception by the public (Kelling, et al 1996). The media could play an invaluable role in the cleanup of the Department’s image as well as disseminating information and help the Department in holding itself accountable.
After the September 11 attacks in the U.S.A, an NYPD expert, Leonard Levitt, described Commissioner Kelly as the most powerful commissioner in the history of NYPD heading a department largely unaccountable to anyone being the only city agency without any effective oversight from outside.
The NYPD has a long history of corruption, spying, and engagement in other illegal activities. NYPD happens to be a very secretive organization. An example of misconduct is one by the Department during the Republican National Convention (R.N.C), which the department decided to sweep under the carpet. By the April of 2005, reports appearing in the New York Times indicated that out of about 1,670 arrests resulting from the RNC, the courts dismissed charges in about 90% of them. The A majority of cases that went to trial resulted in verdicts of not guilty being entered. The reason given was that there was no reason of any wrong doing. The cause for this miscarriage of justice was lack of serious inquiry into the circumstances which led to those arrests.
In a case taken to trial, a video footage of an arrest had been tampered with so as to tally with the claims by the NYPD. This incident led to dropping of all the charges against the defendant. The Police Commissioner is known for rejecting reports critical to the police. In the year 2006, the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), made a report which stated that many RNC protestors were arrested unnecessarily due to the failure on the part of NYPD to give adequate orders which would have ensured that the protestors dispersed. The police officers also failed to give the protestors sufficient opportunity to disperse.
According to New York City’s Complaint Review Board, the NYPD has refused to try officers. Most of the officers were faced with the charges of stopping people in the street without reasonable cause. According to an ACLU report, “Mission Failure: Civilian Review of Policing in New York City, 1994-2006,” The report found that between the year 2000 and 2005 NYPD received and dealt with close to 2,500 cases on police officer and about 725 officers did not receive any punishment. The officers who received punishment just had a slap on the wrist.
According to a report by ACLU, the CCRB investigates less than fifty percent of the complaints that it reviews. The report by CCRB is made based on three out of the ten complaints it deals with annually. This shows a great deal of inaction, bearing in mind, that the numbers of complaints which are made against NYPD officers have been increasing. In the year 2001, the number of complaints against the police was about 4,251. Five years later, the complaints against the police had increased by 80% reaching 7,669. The natures of allegations against the police became worse but were largely ignored. Complaints against excessive use of force by the police increased by 26.8 from the year 2005 to 2006.
The NYPD continues to lower the standards of recruitment to meet the policing demands since many candidates qualified to join the force lack interest in applying due to the negative publicity. In the year 2002, a BBC report stated that a police union of the NYPD accused the police department of letting substandard recruits join the Police force. This accusation was based on hiring applicants who had arrest records, while some recruits were hired without sufficient checks about their backgrounds.
Among those hired by the NYPD were people who had committed serious crimes, such as, money laundering, possession of weapons, grand larceny and assault (Rivera, 2008).
According to a retired Sergeant, Anthony Petroglia who had worked in the NYPD applicant processing division the police department had the habit of hiring people who do not respect the rule of law (Kelling, et al 1996). Another retired officer contended that whenever the recruiting officer noticed that there were issues with a recruit the senior officers would approve of such recruits. The police bosses argued that they would be able to sort out those problems at a later date.
3.8 Case Example
In one Case, Nick v The City of New York;
The complainant in this case had filed a case with the defendant being the City of New York for wrongful arrest. The plaintiff describes an encounter in the courtroom with a city attorney. The attorney asked whether the plaintiff would accept a monetary compensation of about $8,500 to settle the false arrest case. The moment the plaintiff rejected the offer, the attorney started referring to the plaintiff as a criminal. The plaintiff realized that declassified documents from the NYPD referred to him as a ‘perp’. The attorney, on realizing he could not have his way, started threatening the plaintiff with ensuring that he would make lengthy depositions which would lengthen the trial. The attorney also tried to make sure the plaintiff see that he could be faced with penalties in the courts which would exhaust his savings. When the judge got into the jury room, each of the opposing sides gave their version of the events during the material day that the plaintiff was arrested. When the plaintiff held his ground, he received many offers and he finally agreed to a financial settlement as long as there was an apology.
The plaintiff in this case tends to think that the minor monetary compensation coupled with other lawsuits by his colleagues, might have some effect on the behaviour of the Department. He gave a figure of about 569 people who had expressed an intention to sue and if all of them received the damages they were seeking, then the city would end up $859,014,421 poorer. Such an amount is hefty by any standards.
Residents of New York should demand that there be accountability. One of the demands could be that whenever a court of law finds against the police department, then financial settlement should be settlement out of the money allocated to the NYPD. This would mean that tax payers’ money would not be used to make up for mistakes committed by police officers who would nevertheless continue enjoying the perks associated with being a member of the NYPD.
Having such efforts would cause the NYPD to start looking at its dark past. People would have a chance to examine the nature of the department and such citizens could make it clear that they shall never entertain instances of institutions which consistently disregard the law, lack accountability and resist reform.
4.1 Getting Rid of Corrupt Officials
There have been cases, though few, where the NYPD has had to demote some police officers for attempting to cover up during investigations. The Department has seen officers who interfere with investigations of their colleagues and advising them on how they can escape investigations (Kelling 1992). Numerous officers are involved in sexual scandals with some accused with going as far as molesting their own step daughters. NYPD has developed a culture of failing to be accountable. The Police Department almost always fails to prosecute rogue officers even when independent boards investigating such allegations substantiate allegations against such officers.
4.2 Changes in the Mode of Recruitment
Changes are required in the way the Department conducts its business of recruitment. The NYPD needs to transform itself from a being passive and reactive institution lacking energy and drive to one which is responsive. This can only be achieved if the issues surrounding recruitment are taken care of. The Department should recruit candidates who meet certain criteria. Ways should and must be found of ensuring that qualified candidates actually apply and get the jobs.
To streamline the Applicant Processing Division, there is an urgent need for change of the personnel. The division should be headed by an independent team which is impartial. The first step in ensuring that the process of recruitment is independent and impartial would be by removal of all the members involved in the recruitment currently. In the alternative, the NYPD could form a task form whose terms of service should include vetting of all the officers who are involved in the recruitment process and removing all those who are found to be incompetent or whose character makes them unsuitable to hold such positions. The team involved in recruiting police officers for the NYPD should draw its membership from various quarters (Kellig 1992). The division should not be run exclusively by members of the force. It would be much better if experts in various fields which are relevant in ensuring that competency people are selected should be included in such a team.
The team which participates in the recruitment of police officers should be properly trained and vetted to ensure that their values are in line with the vision of the NYPD. A code of conduct should be signed by each member serving in the selection panel after due consideration of the contents. Having a code of conduct which is reduced into writing would provide a benchmark against which the conduct of the members’ conduct would be judged. The code of conduct would also aid the members to know their boundaries and thus they are able to act within the law. Nothing is more serious than giving human being absolute freedom to do as they wish as the results is more often than not, disastrous.
The actions of the recruiting should not be shrouded in mystery. One of the greatest undoing of the Department has been lack of openness in its operations. The recruitment team should be open to scrutiny and audit of its activities. To encourage the culture of openness, the team should prepare a list of the expectations before they conduct interviews. On completion of the process of identifying the suitable candidates, the recruiting team should prepare a report giving details as to how they conducted their affairs and what informed the decisions that they made.
4.3 Recruitment Officers to Behave Professionally
The people involved in interviewing potential police recruits should conduct themselves professionally during the interview process. The current practice where the officers conducting interview rarely care about their appearance should be stopped forthwith. A code of dressing should be introducing and this will ensure that the officers conducting interviews for the recruits are not only professional but appear to be so. This should stop the current practice whereby it is only the Candidates who are supposed to appear for the interview formally dressed. When they get to the venue of the interview, their perception changes and they stop having a high regard for the department.
The recruitment process has also been marked by officers using foul language against the candidates during recruitment. The Department should make it clear that such language is unacceptable. Interviews should be conducted in an atmosphere where respect for all parties prevails. Use of proper language during interviews helps inculcate in the minds of the young recruit that courtesy is valued (Kellig 1992). As the things stand, recruiting officers yell at interviewees. This instils fear in the recruits and portrays a force which is devoid of morals. Consequently, police officers under this system cannot protect the civilians they are meant to protect. An officer who has been through abusive treatment during recruitment will tend to vent out his frustrations on innocent civilians (Rivera, 2008). Officers who badmouth and yell at civilians might be doing it unconsciously as it could appear ‘normal’ for them to use such language.
4.4 Upgrading Dilapidated Equipment
Another major reform required in the NYPD is upgrading of the dilapidated equipment. The police department appears unprepared to apply best practices for a modern organization. The equipment applied in its recruitment is at best archaic. The recruitment division should be the leader in having state of the art equipment which in modern times cannot be divorced from a successful recruitment process. In this regard, the NYPD could consider making the process of recruitment paperless to a large extent. As the practice stands at present, those interested in being employed into the force are required to fill in physical forms which make the process very tedious and difficult to monitor. The Division should consider making the process of application friendlier. Use of paper reflects out-dated mode of doing things. If applications were done online, it would be possible to shortlist candidates who meet minimum qualifications without requiring human beings to look at each and every application before determining the suitability of a candidate.
Technology would also come in handy in determining if and when a candidate is being economical with the truth. The division could make use of lie detectors as a control test for the decisions that they may have made about a certain interviewee. Technology would help overcome challenges which have dogged the police department for a long time, recruitment of unqualified candidates. There are many instances where the NYPD has recruited people with suspicious pasts. The threat of having criminals in the rank and file of the department is that such criminals have the means and capabilities to wreak havoc. The advantage that rogue policemen have is that first, they have some amount of immunity being policemen. Secondly they have access to sensitive information which they could use to achieve their criminal objectives. Thirdly, rogue policemen could collude with other criminals giving them crucial information which aids the criminals carry out their illegal activities and hence compromise the efforts by the department to combat crime.
Using technology would go a long way in knowing which candidates have had a run in with the law (Silverman, 1998). It then becomes easier to follow up on whether people with questionable pasts can be trusted to have reformed and thus eligible to serve as law enforcement officers. The physical infrastructure used during recruitment is a matter or urgency required to be looked at with the view of ensuring that they appear friendly. A force with a great reputation ought, to, as a matter of necessity, reflect its highly regarded position by having the best facilities.
4.5. Adequate Training
Training is the best tool that is used to ensure that workers remain relevant in their field of work. Addressing the issue of the Applicants Processing Division (APD), officials charged with the task of interviewing potential officers ought to have continuous training. There can be no short cut in handling this issue. When people have been at a job for a long time, he or she tends to have certain fixed approaches to doing things. A person naturally becomes rusty and more inclined to do things the old fashioned way. It becomes very important that matters touching on security should be handled with the seriousness they deserve. One of the ways of ensuring the best candidates are got is by having recruiting officers who are not out of touch with the reality. The environment in which policing takes, place changes constantly. Officers at the applicants processing division should be equipped with the latest information and know what challenges they are bound to face (Eterno & Silverman, 2012). By being updated, investigating officers are able to come up with recruits who fit best to the current needs of the force.
4. 6. Public Participation in the Recruitment Process
One important aspect of every open and democratic society is allowing public participation in running the affairs of the country. The applicants processing division should invite members of the public to give their opinions on what their expectations are regarding hiring of police officers. The officers who are engaged by the NYPD are supposed to work with the civilians. This means that public input in determining how the process of picking law enforcement agents is carried out. The NYPD could gain a lot of insights by involving the public. As a matter of fact, people who apply to fill positions as police officers come from the civilian population (Silverman, 1998). It therefore goes without saying that the general populace has wider and better knowledge of the suitability or otherwise of certain candidates. A check with schools where the recruits went through would reveal whether they were juvenile delinquents. Teachers are also very important figures since they observe as the young men and women grow and they can offer useful insights as to the suitability or otherwise of those who have intentions of being in the force.
4.7. Media Involvement in the Recruitment Process
Media involvement in any process shows good faith and acts as a check against abuse of power and due process. The police department should as much as possible ensure that the media carries the stories on how they conduct their recruitment (Eterno & Silverman, 2012). The media acts as an avenue through people get information. Stories appearing in the media could help spark useful public debate and aid in making the relevant changes. For a long time media has been used by the police to apprehend criminals and pass information to the public in case of a disaster. The relationship between the media and the police division should be based on mutual trust and this would see policing improve a great deal.
4.8. Legislation Governing the Recruitment Process
Every person is expected to adhere to the rule of law. The law governing the composition and working of the police should be looked at carefully. This would help in identifying the weak areas and have measures taken which would ensure that one does not escape justice when they breach the law. Developing the law to ensure good policing should involve wide consultations among the relevant stakeholders. The views of the police should be taken into account as well as the views of the public. The politicians would come in handy in directing the public debate on the changes they would like to see effected in the law. The procedural law which governs the way people should access the courts ought to be straight forwards and it should not be too difficult for people to access justice. It should also be difficult for policemen to be victimized after doing what is required of them by the law.
4.9 Change in the Way Psychologists Carry Out their Analyses
Psychologists play an important role in the selection of prospective police officers. The purpose of psychologists is to help eliminate applicants who have traits which are incompatible with one working as a peace officer. Some of the traits that a police officer should not have include addictive tendencies, instability and bad judgment. Most of the time these important people in the selection process administer tests which are standard. The psychologists also review the backgrounds of applicants. However these two processes are not sufficient in reaching a conclusion whether a person fits the bill to become a police officer.
Police psychologists often disqualify applicants unfairly when such applicants reveal some information about their past. The purpose why an applicant would provide such information could be an attempt to show that they have turned over a new leaf. Psychologists disqualify candidates despite such candidates disowning their unattractive past.
At present law enforcement agencies have the so called Generation X and Millennial among the applicant and NYPD is no exception. These two generations have a lot of differences and this poses a unique challenge to human resource personnel. Human resource departments should come up with strategies to enable them to attract candidates most qualified to work as law enforcement officers. Members of generation X are said to find work as a challenge which is difficult to overcome and members of millennial generation view fulfilment as the outcome of working. Between the two generations, the Millennial pose the greatest challenge since they are very impatient and if they are not happy with a job they just leave.
An example of how the department can respond to the challenges of the newer generations is shown by Phoenix Police Department. This department has made it possible to advance in their career while serving in the force, the officers are promised access to information technology and cafeteria benefits. The department sought to address what needs the potential applicants might have.
The NYPD ought to realize that generations have changed. The ideals of law enforcement might not appeal to modern generations. An enforcement agency should find new ways through which they can recruit the right people. The departments should analyze the practices they currently employ in recruitment. Many agencies, including the NYPD have experienced a problem with many of those who apply failing to attend interviews. The NYPD has had instances where about 70% of the applicants failed to attend interviews.
Due to the persistent problem of applicants attending, the department should consider using the services of private firms. The private firms could address the problem by maintaining the interest of applicants in the process of recruitment. This could be achieved through development of a web based portal. Marketing should be done through use of innovative marketing involving media venues. An alternative to recruitment strategies traditionally used was made by Portland Police Department. Young people in the age bracket of 16 to 21. The youths were given the task of coming up with ideas that would make their age mates develop interest in a law enforcement career. This idea could also be introduced to the New York Police Department.
The NYPD could also take lessons from other agencies outside the United States. In the United Kingdom the Metropolitan Police Authority started free train travel for police officers. There are numerous ways that could be applied in marketing. The ways chosen to encourage people join the law enforcement agency should be financially feasible and also appear good enough to the potential policemen and women.
In 1990s Mollen Commission of Inquiry made revelations that the NYPC was mired in corruption. For about two decades a realization arose that once police agencies get embroiled in corruption commanders are never able to maintain control over their officers. This results in loss of confidence from members of the community. This means that police find it difficult to fight crime as the community does not afford the officers the necessary cooperation as they do not trust them (Silverman, 1998). It has been established that on average, after every twenty years, the NYPD gets involved in a major scandal which dictates that a commission of inquiry is established.
Each commission of inquiry has proposed major reforms. Each of the times it was thought that scandals would never recur (Eterno & Silverman, 2012). The Mollen Commission of Inquiry found that it uncovered a worse problem than had been uncovered by Knapp Commission which had been constituted twenty years earlier. The Mollen Commission of Inquiry realized that the occupation of policing and corruption are more or less related. The Committee concluded that for the problem to be tackled effectively a policy agency had to be established. The Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) was established as part of the NYPD in 1993. International research was conducted as part of establishing a structure for IAB. The research established that if corruption in policing was to be addressed effectively, then a proactive approach was necessary. The second principle was that the most effective investigative unit is an independent internal investigative police unit.
In the process of establishing the IAB it was realized that for corruption in the police to be addressed effectively, proactive approach was critical. Many police agencies wait till a corruption case is reported before they can action against an officer who is accused of corrupt practices (Alexander, 2006). The problem with reactive approach was the giver and recipient of the bribe would not have any interest in reporting the case for action. In this case, both parties are guilty an none of the parties would put themselves in trouble by reporting such an incidence. Other types of misconduct involving the police would steal from a scene of crime. If an officer were to steal from a scene of crime, probably there would be not witness. If victims lodged their complaints an investigator would be faced with the complainant’s claim against the policeman’s.
The IAB formed the opinion that a police unit which was well resourced and independent would be best placed to tackle corruption. The reasoning was that the unit would be staffed by police officers. The IAB favoured inclusion of police officers because of their familiarity with the organization’s culture. The argument to support this was that such officers would be in a better position to obtain evidence against a colleague who is corrupt resulting in the necessary disciplinary processes. It is important to note that, this approach on its own is not beyond criticism. Police officers tend to cover up mistakes made by their colleagues. Therefore, it would be advisable to establish an autonomous oversight committee to oversee the operations of the IAB.
According to official statistics reports, complaints regarding misconduct and corruption have reduced by about 50%. This decrease is said to have occurred despite the increase in the size of NYPD due to merging with other policing structures in the city. These figures can not be taken on the face value especially for a force that is known for manipulative figures of crime to give reports which are favourable to the officers.
The NYPD ought to revise and re-evaluate it plans of recruitment. The Department ought to ensure that more applicants from local communities who are of color get into the force. The NYPD must start affirmative action programs. One to address the problem of the minorities being underrepresented is a recruitment unit dealing only with the minorities and this should be adequately funded. It would be better if NYPD advised its officers to reside within the city or while recruiting be biased towards those people who reside in one of the four boroughs making up New York.
The NYPD should try as much as possible to have recruits who have a degree. The department could think of a plan of giving paid leave to recruits who do not have a university degree and they should only be allowed back to the force after attaining a college degree. One way through which NYPD would recruit the right candidates would be by collaborating with colleges and universities which would provide cadets. The department could also think of expanding the Cadet Corps’ programs. The Department should also think of promoting officers of color to positions of command. Such a decision would have the effect of improving the relations between the police and the community and there would be less likelihood of police having cases of misconduct. The greatest barrier is that officers of color do not get to command levels very easily (Alexander, 2006). The process of attaining promotion might be wrought with uncertainties. The department puts pressure on its officers to arrest as many people as possible and produce summonses. The downside of this is that the Department rarely recognizes those officers who recognize and protect civil rights of individuals. The NYPD’s biases makes officers engage in unlawful activities. The NYPD at times mistreats officers who engage in illegal activities. The Department also puts a lot of pressure on the officers which at times affects the officers’ relationship with the local communities. The NYPD should relook at it process of promotion and try to find out why the biases are to be found in the system. The department should find ways of promoting people of color to commanding positions. Failing the test of fairness is one of the reasons that people of color do not feel encouraged to serve in the disciplined forces.
The NYPD needs to eliminate incidents of sexual harassments by the officers to the public and amongst the officers themselves. The Department need to change its training programs on sexual harassment (Eterno & Silverman, 2012). The department should also change how they conduct the diversity training program. The department should remove training materials which have in them stereotypes. Training materials should be geared towards demystifying concepts such as oppression, racism and bias. The officers who are recruitment should have proper training in this area so as to enhance their professionalism. The Department should professionalize the conduct of the officers while in their course of duty. The officers’ handling of people in their course of duty brings about the negative attitude people have against the force. Such practices might not be of much benefit and only fuel the negative attitudes that civilians associate with the force.
5.0 Conclusions, Recommendation and Personal Reflection
It is clear that the NYPD has many problems that impact on its process of recruitment. The department is not able to attract the best candidates to the force. The reason for this state is due to the failure to address the requirements of those who have higher scores. The police force does not enjoy good publicity and this negative perception puts off the most qualified people. Note that, the quality of the force depends to a large extent on the quality of manpower that it has. When police officers who have criminal pasts get employed in the force they bring their bad behaviour to the force; thus, erode the culture of the police force based on integrity. Consequently, people may lose confidence in the police force.
5.1 Observations and Recommendations
The recruitment process does not utilize modern technology that changes with time. The applicants processing division of the NYPD still utilizes the traditional ways of recruit processing. Failure to embrace change makes it difficult for the APD to discharge its mandate effectively. Utilizing technology would help the NYPD to better perform background checks (Alexander, 2006). By failing to know the background of the recruits, there is the inherent danger of having substandard recruits being employed. There have been incidents where senior officers have approved the selection of people with questionable characters.
Any police force worth its name should be open to change. The NYPD has maintained the traditional way of doing things and this negatively impacts on its operation. As the society changes, the methods of policing should change so that the force may remain relevant in the society. Another issue which dogs the force is the issue of race and other forms of stereotyping. There are many incidents where people are labelled as daft or otherwise unfit to serve in the force. People from minority communities have less chances of joining the force and their chances of getting promoted are also dim (Eterno & Silverman, 2012). The police force fails to take into account interests of the communities where the police operate. Members of the force rarely develop close relationships with members of the communities where they live in and this makes it difficult for the smooth operations of the force.
The NYPD has many cases of discrimination in employment and sexual harassment. Some cases have been lodged with Office of Equal Employment Opportunity by NYPD employees. Few details are available regarding the nature of the complaints. However the sad reality is that many officers appear reluctant to register their complaints. Such officers fear reporting the incidents of mistreatment because of the fear that they might be faced with unpleasant consequences from their superiors. Some police departments in the United States do conduct surveys to determine whether their employees feel discriminated against or have had any other form of violation. The NYPD has been reluctant to conduct surveys to determine whether its workforce feels that the treatment they receive is fair. This is a great failure on the part of the NYPD.
It is important that the NYPD determines the extent and also the nature of harassment and discrimination within its ranks. Such a survey would also be made to include applicants who were left out of the force for various reasons. The NYPD would be taking audit of whether the systems that it has in place actually work or it is a disaster waiting to happen. Discrimination against any employee in the force is contrary to the law and it should be met with the relevant consequences to the perpetrators. Police officers who are harassed or discriminated against might end up developing psychological problems. This could lead to incidents where a police officer would turn a weapon against himself or his colleagues. If discrimination against the police is treated as acceptable, then the police officers are likely to replicate the treatment that they receive on the members of the public. The members of the public then develop a hostile attitude towards the police and this cycle would be difficult to break
If the force inculcated healthy attitudes between the officers, then this would translate to respecting people of color who are civilians. People of color would feel that they also need to serve their country as policemen and women when they realize that there is dignity in working for the force. As the situation stands people of color and women are not adequately represented in the force.
There is need an urgent need to have an independent body auditing the activities of the NYPD. Such oversight body should look at all aspects of operations including the recruitment process. It has been proved by empirical evidence that members of the police generally look the other way when mistakes are committed by one of their own. An independent body would provide the necessary checks and balances to the force and hence remove the tendency of police officer to condone corruption. It is also clear that tolerating corruption in the force is a recipe for disaster (Alexander, 2006). A force that is involved in corruption becomes uncontrollable and it would become a disaster for the state.
The NYPD needs to host career fairs for potential recruits. It is vital that the department informs the candidate what more there is to offer, rather than just policing. Many people are put off by the idea of career stagnation. The NYPD should make it clear how one gets promoted. This would remove the perception that one needs to have a godfather for them to rise in the force. If people were made aware that they can continue with their education and have a career progression then many people would develop interest in the force. The NYPD should develop strategies to make it known that they require specialists such as pilots and scenes of crime investigators. This information would change the perception that being an employee necessarily entails putting on uniform and controlling rowdy crowds of people.
These are just some of the changes required to make the NYPD a more respectable and acceptable institution. Policing is a very important function and it should as a matter of necessity be taken up by the best minds and there should be fairness and respect for the rule of law. Nothing would take the place of having a force that is accountable and has the confidence of the people that it serves. If these changes are effected, then the NYPD shall ensure equal opportunities for all and attract the best brains to run the security agency. The NYPD being the largest municipal force in the United States with a large budget to boot should lead by example. This can only be realized if these and other reforms get effected.
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