Following Up: Should Cops Live in the Neighborhoods they Police?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

NYPD vehicle (ADL999/flickr)

We follow up on a theme that emerged during our special with WBEZ on gun violence in New York and Chicago. How much does it matter that police live in or be familiar with the neighborhoods they police? Should cops be required to live in their beat neighborhoods? Cops and residents alike, call 212-433-9692, or post your comment here.

Caller Preston, in Chicago, the son of a former beat cop, explains the nostalgia that many feel for that time.

There was a time when beat cops were really, really common in Chicago. Police officers were able to work in the same neighborhoods for years. You build a relationship, you knew who lived in the neighborhood, you knew what car didn’t belong in the neighborhood. If a crime was committed, you probably have a pretty good idea [who did it]. …That relationship is gone in Chicago right now. …Because of that, you’ve got people who can do things in sort of relative anonymity.

Caller Ralph from the Bronx, who grew up in public housing, agrees, and points out that in New York, officers usually don’t live in the neighborhoods they police.

The only thing that’s gonna change this problem is if the cops are familiar with community and the community is familiar with the police officers. …The cops that are coming in and out of the community are going home to different areas that have nothing to do with public housing.

→ UPDATE (4/22): The NYPD responded to our request for information about whether police are assigned to communities they're familiar with. Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne responded:

The NYPD assigns personnel based on the needs of the department, but it tries to accommodate officers' preferences that often reflect a desire to make their commutes as short as possible. However, the department has a prohibition against officers residing within the same precinct to which they are assigned in order to avoid potential conflicts if called upon to take enforcement action against neighbors or others they may know personally.

Comments [15]

DTorres from Manhattan

The salary of a White Shield NYPD Police Officer doesn't stretch far enough
to make it possible to live in a NYC neighborhood comfortably.
Even the salary of a Gold Shield, NYPD Sgt isn't enough if they have
a family.
NYC is expensive you pay more for mortgage, car payments, insurance,
the state of the public schools in NYC is a major consideration.

Why should a cop that goes wear angels fear to tread have to look behind
their shoulder all the time, the way that residents in some of NYC
neighborhoods have to, because the perpetrators of the majority of the
street crime are their neighbors?

Apr. 18 2013 03:36 PM
RBC from Brooklyn

Public employees should live in the areas where they work... the only problem is most public employees these days can't afford to live in the city of their employment.

Apr. 18 2013 02:50 PM
Marilyn Elie from United States

In some ways it is similar to teachers live in the neighborhood where they teach. If they want to fine. If, however, they have children they will be concerned about schools. How can a cop on the beat really focus if he or she is concerned about the safety of their family? It is more of an attitude than a geographical address. In addition life is more than career and work. Everyone is entitled to kick back relax and enjoy their family. It is an important part of being a good parent.

Apr. 18 2013 11:56 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I'm not sure if working in the same neighborhood over a long time makes a difference, whether or not a police officer also lives there. I've heard/read complaints from kids who get repeatedly stopped & frisked by the same cops, even though they've never found anything on them.

Apr. 18 2013 11:51 AM
Robert from NYC

If you can't do the job get another one! You know that's what the bosses tell us. If you can't handle and balance the work of a police officer, don't be a police officer.

Apr. 18 2013 11:49 AM
Bob from Huntington

Also consider requiring cops to have a college education--preferably inthe liberal arts where they're more likely to get exposure to the history and thought of other cultures. This should certainly be true for LI cops who make upwards of 100K, yet can join the force with no more than a GED.

Apr. 18 2013 11:48 AM
Robert from NYC

I meant to say...Brian/Leonard, a true professional CAN always separate the job from the personal. There are ways to do it professionally!!!

Apr. 18 2013 11:47 AM
Robert from NYC

I don't know if they should live in the neighborhood where they are assigned but they should live in NYC if they are NYPD! Basta, no questions, no excuses, no explanations. Live in the city that pays you and know the neighborhood you work in. An no, Brian/Leonard, a true professional can always not separate the job from the personal. There are ways to do it professionally!!!

Apr. 18 2013 11:43 AM

in NYC the PD can't live in the precinct that he lives in

Apr. 18 2013 11:42 AM
Alexander from West Harlem

It's an obvious answer, City residency should be required for all police officers. If they live in the city they work in there will be more of a personal investment in their interactions with the people they serve. It would help in building trust within a community.

Apr. 18 2013 11:39 AM
antonio from baySide

It's not that crazy. Elected officials have to...

There would be a decline in the numbers of stop and frisk if that was the case...
Denizens from New York City have a radar and understanding folks from suburbs don't have...

Also how can two of the most segregated counties be allowed to patrol areas that have no clue or understanding...

Apr. 18 2013 11:39 AM

Just as states become underrepresented by government as population becomes more dense, cities become underrepresented by law enforcement. New York City is so dense that and every neighborhood is unique and evolving and needs to be understood. The best way to achieve this is to have cops be directly linked to the neighborhoods they ”serve”. Law enforcement needs to invest itself in a areal and meaningful way.

Apr. 18 2013 11:38 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

to reduce

Apr. 18 2013 11:37 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

For their safety and reduce the potential for corruption, cops should NOT be allowed to live in the actual neighborhoods they patrol. Being required to live within the City however - is a whole other issue.

Apr. 18 2013 11:03 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Should teachers live in the same neighborhood as their schools?

Apr. 18 2013 10:59 AM

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