When protecting the communities and enforcing laws, the police officers are granted special powers to use force including deadly force. However, the police during training are taught that deadly force is a last resort while protecting an individual from serious injury or imminent death. O’Neil O’Neil, and Lewinki (2017) explains the most life changing and traumatic incident that can occur during the line of duty of an officer is fire arm discharge. Due to this, the New York Police Department collect all information related to firearm discharge, whether accidental, purposeful or criminal as well as firearm discharge by a third party. It is vital for the NYPD to track why, where, when and how officers discharge their firearm to attain the ultimate goal of the department where every discharge was executed due to lack of any option rather than the firearm.
Right to Use Force
Kleck (2017) explain that police officers are among the few individuals allowed by the society to use force during their course of duty. The New York State law provides police officers with a right to use force to prevent an escape and affect an arrest as well as protect property and life. There are specific exceptions where an individual may use force during defend but police officers are allowed to use force and pursue fleeing perpetrators in termination of the flight. Stein and Griffith (2017) stipulates that the role of police officers include service, order maintenance and crime control where the last two may require the use of force. However, it is not optional to comply with stated matter and most of times police are forced to use force following resisting perpetrators which induces officers to use force.
Some of the optional forces used by police officers include deadly physical force, impact weapons (like batons), conducted energy weapons, non-impact weapons (like pepper spray), physical force and verbal force. Although all the tools are at the disposal of the officer, there is no stipulated order to move from one to the next and the officer selects the force to use eat a given time. O’Neil O’Neil, and Lewinki (2017) explain that the New York State Penal Law requires an officer to use physical force when necessary in defense of an individual, prevent escape of effect arrest. However, the same law limits the ability of an office to apply deadly force by illustrating three instances to use deadly force. They include: during the defensive of another individual, fleeing or resisting armed felony, and when the perpetrator commits or attempts to commit a felony and applies physical force.
However, although the statute restricts the use of deadly physical force, the NYPD provides a more stringent guidelines which ensures that the NYPD offices use less force and when necessary. One example is that the statute allows the use of physical force while protecting property but the NYPD does not. Another example is the use of physical force on a driver which threatens their life, an aspect that violates the NYPD firearm discharge guidelines. According to the NYPD Patrol Guide, “only the amount of force necessary to overcome resistance will be used and excessive force will not be tolerated,” (203,211).
NYPD Guidelines on Firearm Use
The NYPD have stipulated nine rules to guide their officers on the aspect of physical force. Some of the rules include: no firing warning shots, no cocking firearms, prohibits firearm discharge on animals unless on protecting self, no firearm discharge for assistance unless during emergency, weapons will not be applied to subdue fleeing felon who are not threats, no discharge for property protection, no discharge if endangering other people, and no discharge if not protecting self or others. However, Stein and Griffith (2017) explain that the use of force among the NYPD officers is not limited as they are right to exercise as much force as they view is generally important. Therefore, the aspect of firearm discharge is open to reasonableness where it is acknowledged that police officers are strained while making life and death decisions.
In NYPD, officers are trained either in in-service training or recruit training. Rukus, Warner and Zhang (2018) explains that NYPD training involves the application of modern standards and principles in training complex policing skills which integrate policy and laws, effective tactics, decision making, and communication. The training runs for nine weeks where it is conducted with simulators, role-playing workshops, and scenario-based to train on complex policing skills. In addition, the NYPD officers are required to attend to firearm requalification twice a year. Officers with poor firearm skills are provided with remedial trainings irrespective of attaining a passing score. O’Neil (2018) explains that effective firearm discharge calls for need increasing the exposure of recruits to scenario-based training and evaluation and are not given a pass unless they provide mastery skills.
Community Policing Initiatives
One way that the NYPD have increased their professionalism is through the use of Courtesy Professionalism and Respect (CPR) program. The role of the NYPD as stipulated in the CPR program is that the police officers should constantly respect and display courtesy to the New York City residents. The formation of the CPR program followed the increase in complains of NYPD officers from the community. One problem that has been identified is the relationship between NYPD officers and the communities of color in the City where the issue is double edged (Rukus, Warner and Zhang, 2018). For example, the NYPD have been termed by the communities of color as having discourteous conduct. Such issues call for the need of introducing a program those officers respects the communities they serve without discrimination based on color.
According to Rukus, Warner and Zhang (2018), the CPR programs operates towards introducing officers who are deemed professionals by the communities they serve, who attains the CPR strategies, improves the safety of officers with more public support, and enhance a more productive relationship between the community and the NYPD officers. The cooperation of the community and the NYPD have been enhanced by the formation of Precinct Community Councils. This led to the introduction of Precinct Community Councils in each patrol and precinct area where all members are included in the council including the civil rights groups, the clergy, business owners and all residents in general. The role of Precinct Community Councils is empowering the community by involving them in law enforcement efforts which will increase community relations. Another aspect introduced in the police department is the Citizens Police Academy which promotes a better understanding and police-community relations.
Reformations in the NYPD
One of the core changes in the NYPD is the aspect of neighborhood policing which provides the New York City with neighborhood-centric policing. The aspect works by classifying each precinct internally four to five sectors where they operate towards changing the neighborhood. In each sector, police officers have been selected to provide policing services to the region. Kleck (2017) explains that approximately there are 100,000 people in the New York City precinct. The precinct has been subdivided into manageable increments of approximately 20,000 persons. The need for forming such manageable groups was due to the continuing widening of the gap between the police and some communities.
Thus, over the years, the NYPD have restructured their patrols through sector integrity which is the first principle of neighborhood policing. This means that a police officer is assigned an area to control and they are not expected to leave the group unless it is an emergency. Neighborhood policing is different from the 911 kind of operation where an officer moves from one region to another without forming relationships with residents. Generally, neighborhood policing boosts relationships between the community and the police where the community views police officers as officers offering help rather than enemies.
The police officer evaluation system is applied by the NYPD to evaluate a wide range of skills by evaluating more on accomplishment and abilities rather than quantitative measures. This form of evaluation comprises of 12 dimensions that are vital for effective policing. They include: leadership, initiative, quality and timeliness of written reports, departmental interaction, community interaction, application of law and procedures, responsiveness, judgment, integrity, adaptability, and problem identification. The advantage of this evaluation system is that officers are in position to self-report their notable accomplishments, their community interaction and engagement, and their problem-solving work.
Kleck, G. (2017). Targeting guns: Firearms and their control. Routledge.
O’Neil, J. (2018). NYPD Releases 2017 Use-of-Force Report. New York Police Department.
O’Neill, J., O’Neill, D. A., & Lewinski, W. J. (2017). Toward a taxonomy of the unintentional discharge of firearms in law enforcement. Applied ergonomics, 59, 283-292.
Rukus, J., Warner, M. E., & Zhang, X. (2018). Community policing: Least effective where need is greatest. Crime & Delinquency, 64(14), 1858-1881.Stein, R. E., & Griffith, C. (2017). Resident and police perceptions of the neighborhood: Implications for community policing. Criminal justice policy review, 28(2), 139-154.
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