Sunday, April 04, 2010

Arresting Republicans and Non-Republicans: An Insider's View

Howard Safir with Ellis Whitman. Security: Policing Your Homeland, Your State, Your City. New York: Thomas Dunne Books. St. Martin’s Press, 2003.

It takes $3.7 billion (circa 2003) to police New York City, using 40,000 police officers, and 14,000 civilian employees. While Safir was Police Commissioner (1996 to 2000), the major crime rate decreased 38%, the first drop since the mid-1960s. Safir credits this to a deliberate policy he calls Goal Oriented Neighborhood Policing. It was a program, that went after5 all crime, realizing that major crimes are often prevented when major criminals are caught committing smaller crimes.

Safir related this policy to the James Q. Wilson and George Kelling “Broken Window” concept which states that an unrepaired broken window incites stone throwers to break more windows which leads to the entire building deteriorating. By going after the “broken windows” in policing, such as panhandlers and graffiti artists, a community is saved from deterioration, according to the belief.

A leading policing philosophy previous to this was to look at the police arrest rates. Police promotions were based on making more arrests. Safir changed the emphasis to crimes rates and looking at how to lower the rates. (Note: Critics would note that emphasis in one direction or another may tend to drive official statistics towards that direction.)

Safir made the precinct commander, a middle manager between the department and officers, responsible for both how officers acted and the precinct’s crime rate. Officers had to uphold courtesy, professionalism, and respect. Their skills on these attributes were monitored. Counseling was offered to people with civilian complaints.

Safir saw drug enforcement as a local problem. Officers were concerned with drugs within the city and in driving dealers out of town. Safir recognizes that may have only driven the problem to other cities, yet he sees the job of local police to protect their locality.

Safir created Domestic Violence Units in each precinct. He instituted a mandatory arrest policy when finding domestic violence. Officers were to check on victims within a day afterwards. Squad supervisors examined each domestic violence matter within three days.

Subway turnstile jumping happened about 214,000 times in 1993. Safir had the police enforce this crime, which dropped to happening about 15,000 times a month. This reduced subway crime by 60% as enforcing the smaller crime removed criminals from the subways.

First Deputy Commissioner Jack Maple achieved success at producing and analyzing police data. He sped up intelligence gathering, deployment of officers and resources, improved the effectiveness of how police respond, and assessed situations in order to find ways to improve future intelligence. The data would show the types of resources needed at different locations and identify the “hot spots” of criminal activity.

New York implemented an On-Line Booking System that allows an officer to book a suspect electronically and send the information to the District Attorney’s office. Thus, suspects no longer needed to be booked in one central location.

84% of rapes are not reported, according to Safir. He supports greater efforts at capturing rapists.

Safir notes the importance of DNA testing. He is upset at the backlog of rape tests being analyzed. DNA evidence is found in 60% of murders, assaults, and batteries. Hair evidence is found in 10% of robberies and 6% of residential burglaries.

There is only a 14% probability of a robbery or burglary being solved. Safir had police officers take DNA at every robbery or burglary to increase the odds of solving these crimes.

Safir calls for abolishing parole. He argues the recidivism rate is the same for those paroled as those who serve their full sentence. (Note: There are critics who would argue there are differences in some types of cases.)

Safir greatly increased video surveillance in high crime areas. This helped reduce crime in these areas by up to a third.

The New York police began checking guns involved in crimes through a database of previous chares. Ballistic fingerprints were added to this database. Decoy and plainclothes police searched for illegal guns. In 1996, 120 officers in this unit made 20% of the illegal fun arrests in New York City. This unit was expanded to 400 officers, or 2% of the police force.

All 40,000 police officers take marksmanship training twice a year. They use hollow point bullets.

Sair argues that gun owners should be required to have insurance for their guns. This way guns will be accountable as to where they should be.

80% of all arrested test positive for drugs. Safir observes most crimes are drug related.

Safir tried to implement merit pay. The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) sued arguing raises should be given to everyone. The PBA won and the merit raises were stricken.

7 Comments:

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