Polite Policing ala NYPD


Last month, newly-elected New York Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced seven principles that he said will increase officers’ sensitivity while interacting with the people; especially while conducting the street tactic of “stop and frisk.”

The following is a summary of  the guidelines:

  1. When possible, politely introduce yourself and provide name and rank.
  2. Actively listen to the people you are encountering.
  3. Keep an open mind.
  4. Be patient.
  5. Know city resources in order to help people with problems.
  6. Make reasonable efforts to help those who seek it.
  7. Try to end every encounter on a positive note.

The guidelines—named the “seven steps to positive community interactions”—are, of course, geared to nonemergency situations.

The steps include having officers give their name and rank, being patient and being aware of resources available through the NYPD and other city agencies that could help those in need.

The officers will also be instructed to “actively listen” to people they’re encountering and “to make sure every encounter, whenever possible.

“We understand there is going to be situations where it’s split-second decisions,” said Mr. de Blasio  in a news conference with newly-appointed Police Commissioner William Bratton. “Most of what police do is more normal interactions, and we want those to be as constructive as possible.” To read the entire news article CLICK HERE.

That’s true. But I would have liked to have heard more.

How police treat people has a major impact on how effectively and efficiently they can get their work done. A “dissed” citizen will not provide information to police when asked, nor will they support their police or hold the trust which is absolutely necessary for citizens to have regarding their police. It is an essential ingredient when policing a democracy.

What we are talking about is VALUES. How are officers selected and trained to respect the dignity and worth of all whom they encounter? How are street supervisors not only treating citizens, but also their officers. Is their supervisory and leadership style one that encourages officers to treat citizens they encounter with respect?

It’s a nice start. But the NYPD (and all of us for that matter) need to go further.

Permit me to make a suggestion. Former Chief Mike Scott and I prepared 12 qualities we thought we essential to policing a democracy. Three of them directly apply to the matter of “stop and frisk”:

Respectful; Police officers should treat all persons with unconditional courtesy and respect, and be willing to listen to others, especially to those without social power or status. Likewise, police leaders should treat their workers with courtesy and respect their employment rights.

Restrained: The preservation of life should be the foundation for all police use of force. Police officers should continually prepare themselves to use physical force in a restrained and proper manner, with special training in its application to those who are mentally ill. Deadly force should be used only as a last resort and only when death or serious injury of the officer or another person is imminent. Less-than-lethal force should be preferred where possible.

 Unbiased: Although some bias is inherent in human nature, police officers recognize that they can and should train themselves to reduce their biases and deal with all people fairly and without regard to their race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic condition, national origin, citizenship status, or sexual orientation.

You can see all 12 of them HERE.