Chapter

Policing in New York City

Franklin E. Zimring

in The City that Became Safe

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199844425
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199943357 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199844425.003.0005

Series: Studies in Crime and Public Policy

Policing in New York City

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This chapter is a four-part down payment on the comprehensive portrait of the New York experience that the two-decade history of policing deserves. The first section provides a short history of police methods and social science understanding of the effectiveness of police circa 1990 in the United States. It describes a crisis of confidence in orthodox theories of policing produced in large part by systematic evaluation efforts that deconstructed decades of received but unproven wisdom. This left the field more open to new leadership and ideas in the 1980s and 1990s than in previous decades, but without proven methods of crime control and prevention. The second section briefly describes the three major changes in city policing and when they occurred: changes in numbers of police, changes in organization and accountability, and changes in the strategies and tactics of street policing. These changes were the inputs of the new approach to policing—the series of shifts that were supposed to prevent and control crime. The third section shifts focus from how policing changed in the city to the question of whether the sum of changes reduced crime, whether the magnitude of police crime prevention in New York can be measured, and whether the effectiveness of different segments of the multi-part shifts in policing can be separately assessed. The fourth section addresses the lessons that can be learned from available data, as well as the things that can't be known until the slow and painful bean counting of policy science displaces storytelling and salesmanship.

Keywords: New York City; police methods; city policing; crime control; crime decline; crime prevention

Chapter.  18929 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Theory

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