Note to NYPD: This Is Not How You Improve Relations With the Community

Avatar

Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

Related Post Roulette

10 Responses

  1. Avatar Robert Boyd says:

    This sounds like a purely a case of quota filling. Officers are told they need to meet certain numbers, so they start hassling people regardless of whether it makes sense to do so or not.Report

  2. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    This does seem bizarre – it’s hard to think of how the officers thought this would make their jobs easier over the long (or even short) term. I suppose quota filling is plausible, but it doesn’t seem like the kind of violation you could count on citing to a scale where it becomes really helpful in that regard. It seems more likely this is just the slow unwinding of the Giuliani legacy playing itself out long after the economy (not his draconian rule) transformed the a decade and a half ago. It’s also probable that there a small, extremely unrepresentative, but very vocal cohort (or perhaps just one individual or family) who care about this regulation and its enforcement in this neighborhood a great deal. The squeaky wheel will get the grease and all. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine the city coming to decide that certain parks had to be designated with this lone-adult-no-go rule, and then deciding on the particular parks to receive it, without a vocal constituency moving the process along. These chess tables have been around decades, while this regulation is probably less than a decade old. That’s not at all to argue that this application of the reg. (and indeed the whole thing itself — doesn’t this just encourage parents to be complacent about supervising their kids while their out in the city?) isn’t totally dumb. But it might be worth hearing if the city would offer a forthright explanation of the action. Given that this is NYC, I doubt that that’s going to be on offer – more likely you’d get a very thick-skulled and defensive statement that, Hey, it’s a violation so we wrote it up and that’s that. But if they did offer some context it would probably be worth hearing, which is not to say it’d be convincing in terms of a defense of this police decision. But I’d tend to put more stock in the possibility, as Mark suggested, that this action has roots more in an ill-advised directive from somewhere above than I do in the likelihood that this is just a poor decision by a beat cop. My (limited) experience with the NYPD is that the guys and women who pound the pavement, when not interfered with by dumb directives, do indeed learn very quickly what are good uses of their time and what are counter-productive – at least until there is the slightest hint that a person poses a physical threat to them.Report

  3. Avatar Angel Elf says:

    This is just a case of discrimination against single or married people that don’t have children. My taxes pay for these parks but I am prohibited from using them just because I have no children. This not only applies to chess, but I can’t have my lunch in any park or simply sit down and enjoy being outside on a beautiful day. Why not partition the parks? Have a section for adults where children are not allowed? Besides isn’t this “don’t-be-here” regulation simply unconstitutional anyway? This law should be struck down.Report

  4. Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

    You know what? Here’s an actual symptom of creeping authoritarianism (yeah, *I* said that).

    The problem with incidents like this (and virtually the entire history of the TSA) is that the “line worker” does not have either the ability, or the inclination, to use common sense.

    “A story like this, however, shows that the police officers in the neighborhood, perhaps because of the law enforcement strategies adopted by City Hall, have absolutely no clue about what the problems in the community are, nor about who is part of the problems in the community. Instead, they have rules and strategies adopted by bureaucrats in City Hall that purport to have greater authority than the local neighborhood in determining what and who is a problem in the community.”

    A little bit oversimplified but otherwise spot on, Mr. Thompson. Those “rules and strategies” don’t just come from bureaucrats, though.

    They come from the one guy who shows up at the community policing meetings and complains about the shopping carts abandoned on his street, but is appeased by pie charts. They come from the mentality that public service ought to be more like a business, and business measures outcomes using metrics, and those metrics have to be easily quantifiable (note: this isn’t really good business practice in most industries, either, but somehow this has made its way into public service). They come from middle-line management in the police force itself that doesn’t give push-back to the upper management or the civilian oversight committee. They come from officer training programs that don’t emphasize critical thinking on the part of the police. They come from lawsuits and lawyers and legislators who can cover your ass only if you’re doing things *right in between these two lines, right here*. And, unfortunately, they come from some of the cops/security officers/whathaveyou who actually do get off on the aura of authority they get from packing a badge – while I honestly believe this represents a very small minority of actual cops (slightly higher percentage of security officers), it also feeds into the cycle.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      “They come from the mentality that public service ought to be more like a business, and business measures outcomes using metrics, and those metrics have to be easily quantifiable (note: this isn’t really good business practice in most industries, either, but somehow this has made its way into public service).”

      Academia too. It’s not working too well there either.Report

    • Avatar James K says:

      Measuring the outcomes of your actions is a very good idea: if you can’t tell the difference between a policy working and a policy not working, what does that say for the merit of the policy? An invisible effect might as well be non-existent.

      The trouble is that monitoring and evaluation are hard, and require genuine expertise. A classic rookie mistake is to measure outputs instead of outcomes. As Robert Peel put it, the success of police is not measured in number of arrests but in absence of crime. But then Peel’s wisdom has long been absent from the conduct of law enforcement.Report

      • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

        > Measuring the outcomes of your actions is a very good idea: if
        > you can’t tell the difference between a policy working and a
        > policy not working, what does that say for the merit of the
        > policy? An invisible effect might as well be non-existent.

        This is true, but a lot of social policy effects are emergent. People see something they don’t like. They “do something”. Something else changes. Was it in spite of the change, or because of the change?

        Granted, I’d generally prefer for public policy to be evidenced-based, but this just isn’t going to happen, period. I don’t see it happening any time in the near or far future for someone to include a “measurement” section in any legislation (let alone have it be a required element) and I certainly don’t see anyone sticking to it.

        In a lot of the clamor for measurement, people make up metrics that measure their own success, and conveniently ignore their failures. And then we get “Hey, it works! Look, I have pretty graphs! You can trust me, experts came up with these measurements!”Report