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Crime Is Down in New York City: Blame the Police (From Policing: Key Readings, P 472-482, 2005, Tim Newburn, ed. -- See NCJ-208824)

NCJ Number
William J. Bratton
Date Published
11 pages
The author of this chapter (William J. Bratton), who began serving as police commissioner of New York City in January 1994, describes how changes in the organization and practices of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) produced a dramatic decline in crime in the city.
The NYPD was first assessed to be an organization that was not realizing its potential. This led to the creation of 12 "re-engineering" teams, with each focusing on an area crucial to achieving short-term and long-term crime-reduction goals such as training, equipment, and technology. Expertise from both inside and outside the NYPD was used to develop goals and strategies to meet the goals. The organization was decentralized to move responsibility and accountability down to the precinct level in accordance with the model of community policing being implemented. Precinct commanders were given responsibility for developing and coordinating plans to address crime in their precincts. Compstat meetings were created to monitor precinct work, as precinct commanders were required to report on progress in their efforts by analyzing current computer-generated crime statistics in their precincts and comment on what was being done to achieve crime reduction. In a change of policy, beat officers were encouraged to make drug arrests during peak drug-dealing periods. Other changes implemented were giving precinct personnel responsibility for internal affairs investigations, giving detectives access to all computer systems deemed relevant to their investigations, and publicizing the effectiveness of the police in reducing crime based on the analysis of statistical reports. The chapter concludes with a critique of the phrase and concept of "zero-tolerance" policing, arguing that the maintenance of visible public order is constructive when done reasonably and strategically, but the phrase in itself connotes an unrealistic approach to policing. 3 notes