RUNNING head: NYPD Battles Crime

Comparison and Contrast on how Police Commissioner Murphy and Police Commissioner Bratton ran the NYPD.

Silverman’s book entitled “NYPD, Fighting Crime” had stated that Patrick Murphy who was the police commissioner from the year 1970 to 1073 recalled years later that the NYPD department when he was in charge was behind in crime analysis and computerization.  To makeup for the shortfall, each  precinct would select a sergeant as a planning officer who will revive a crash course on analyzing statistics at the police academy.  Whereas, Bill Bratton who was the NYPD commissioner from 1992 to 1995 and accredited for bringing a significant change to the force was relying directly on the precinct commanders to oversee the coordinating of the force under their command.  Murphy gave priority to deployment by keeping the force’s members productive when they are not enforcing the law by analyzing whatever crime information is available and it has similarity to how Bratton was keeping his force busy, since he had much better access to crime data..  One reason Murphy gave for doing so is he believed that if there is a need to track repeat offenders there will be a need of coordinating various sources, such as probation officers, parole officers, and the district attorney office.

Another style Murphy embraced was having close ties with the community that was similar to the stand Bratton had.  One program introduced in his reigns was “Cop of the Block”.  The requirement from the officers was to become very familiar with the members of the community they are assigned in and if possible in more precincts, by making as many friends as possible.  The program had been applauded by Commissioner Brown who became commissioner after Murphy had left office and had adapted it to what the force was doing under his leadership by coming up with a similar program.  Murphy himself had considered the program as a legacy of his era although in the mid 70s it was becoming difficult to implement it effectively because of a budge crunch. Another program Murphy introduced was Neighborhood Police Teams that was considered to be a major innovation and was deemed to be superior to the patrol structure that was in existent after him including Bratton.

Murphy took advantage of a corruption scandal that took place around the time he became commissioner and tried to steer an establishment known for its stringent investigative abilities into a different area.  He did that knowing there was a limited chance to introduce drastic change.  Some sources such Barbara Gelb who had studied the force for more than ten years had attested to the fact that the force that was highly corrupted had transformed itself in a few years to become a more dependable, reliable, and a clean force and most of the credit would go to Murphy since he is the one who put the groundwork.  This is similar to what Bratton done when his new management style that created more contact with the community fomented conflict through the process of enforcing the law.  Instead of trying to make amends for some of the mistakes made, he invigorated his effort to combat corruption among the force members that showed good result.  Another important introduction Murphy made was the use of time where it was transformed to become intelligence oriented and productive and it seems Bratton had learned this lesson from him or the fact that he was running the force using a sophisticated computer system he introduced called Compstat had enabled the force members to use their time productively.  Another contribution Murphy made was he had the power and the insight to restrict what the force members would do and would not do, as it was witnessed by the measure he took concerning corruption where he took the officers power to arrest anyone in gambling related cases unless some member of the community files a complaint.  Similarly, Bratton had overridden the need the community needs protection from abuse it was receiving from force members by focusing instead in disciplining the force by making the pretext corruption.  This is in addition to both being highly attentive about criminal analysis and community policing. The big difference between the two had been that the force before the arrival of Bratton, including in Murphy’s time was focussing on serving the community that meant to answer calls as quickly as possible and to follow-up with the rest of police procedure.  At the time of Bratton the drive was to prevent crime before it occurs and that had been one of Brattorn’s highly praised achievement.  Murphy also believed that in order to make the forces very effective he fully recognized the effectiveness of plain cloth policing and that opened a career opportunity for the members. Bratton was also using the same principle, as most of his young recruits from lower ranks were working as plain cloth officers if the need arises.  Silverman had compared the force to a massive ocean liner that is difficult to change course.  According to him, Murphy understood that in order to introduce an effective reform what is required is more than changing the structure and management system.

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Introducing reform was not easy and would have not shown result at all if his hand-picked top level personnel introduced the change without making it create conflict with the existing practices, a similar accomplishment to Bratton’s that made his effort successful.  In his effort to introduce change he had created two followers: one that opposes all his efforts by claiming that they always did things in a particular way and it had always worked and there is no need to change it.  The others were those who exactly did what Murphy told them and had armed themsevels with the scientific data they gathered and wanted a change to be implemented based on the data they accumulated.  This is similar to what Bratton did.  He armed his subordinates with Compstat and they had a similar demand where all the useful findings of the new system require implementation.  The only difference might be Bratton did not have a significant opposition.

The major problem Murphy had to tackle when he was in charge was corruption although he had delegated the responsibility to the head of each precinct to oversee the behavior of their subordinates to the point where if it is not contained they could lose their commands.  Here there is a similartiy between Murphy and Bratton as both have given the locus of the responsibility to the precinct commanders.  Furthermore, Murphy had recognized at the same level or higher than those around him that the problems that lead to crime are known and had been recognized and studied as thoroughly as possible in order to come up with some kind of solution.  However, because of the vastness of the source of crime in the city, he chose to start focusing on what was within his reach and grasp.  According to Silverman, he started to tackle the corruption problem heavy handedly.  This does not mean corruption had been rooted out for good although it was brought down considerably when he was in charge and for a while after him, but it had make a comeback in different forms in the 80s and 90s till up to the time Ratton was in charge and he was also fighting corruption.

The Different Investigations Directed into Corruption at the NYPD.

The NYPD had a guideline where the key weapon to fight corruption was to change the organizational culture where the core value would be respect toward one’s duty.  There is anti-corruption strategy in place at the NYPD and it states that there is a need for internal procedural function that would serve as a deterrent mainly to corruption, but including brutality and police misconduct.  At the time Ratton was the commissioner, the drive was to re-engineer the organizational system from what he called it “ a micro-managed organization that lacks strategic direction to a one that has strong strategic guidance at the top”.  He believed that such measures require undertaking a new kind of supervision, training, and discipline.  To boost the effort further there is a need to come up with a system of accountability that will establish a bond and trust among the force and the public.

Based on such principles, the long history of corruption scandals had instigated the coming into the picture of two major inquiry commissions.  The first one was the Knapp Commission established in May 1970 and its findings were the following.  According to the finding of the commision, organized crime was the main source of police corruption.  The second source was legitimate businesses that were trying to find their way through the maze of ordinances and regulation the city had in place.  The earlier forms of corruption labeled as misconduct originates from gratitude that could involve free meals or other goods or directly receiving money in a form of a bribe. This had led to the creation of an Internal Affair Division in 1972 and its main duty was to receive and investigate complaints about corruption.  Other highly publicized corruption incidents that surfaced later on were such as Michael Dowd’s who was charged for drug use and trafficking.  That incident instigated the coming into the picture of another inquiry commission called Mollen Commission named after the chair of the commission Milton Mollen.  The commission had stated that it detected a different pattern this time that is deeply rooted in the narcotic business where officer themselves could be trafficking drugs or they were enriching themselves from money or drug they confiscate from dealers themselves, as the members of the force assigned to the narcotic division have the right to conduct their own investigations and raids.

The commission made six recommendations in order to deter the explosive corruption that was taking place:

·       Raising the expectation of the police culture and management by introducing higher level of education and training.

·       Command accountability that the commission found was lacking at every level.  Internal investigations where the commission had found out that internal affairs had abandoned its mission and that might reverse by upgrading the quality expectation of the staff.

·       Introducing sanctions and deterrents so that the detection level of corruption in the making could be uplifted

·       Community outreach was among the recommendation but the commission wants it to be handled differently since it believed it would create opportunity of interaction that could lead toward corruption.  Preventing that requires opening more channels to report any activity pertaining to corruption and a means to support measure taking.

·       External corruption control has to be brought in that will monitor the activity of the force and could go as far as auditing the police work.  The external permanent commission would get the permission to carry out a continuos assessment and study of the prevalent system, the intent being prevention, detection, and through investigation of corruption.

The external commission would also assist the department in how to implement programs and policies so that weeding out values and attitudes that lead to corruption would be possible.  The commission’s task would be to assure that those in command position would earn accountability while it has the mandate to initiate and investigate any sign of corruption.

The recommendation made got acceptance by the then Mayor Giuliani on February 1995 who gave an executive order to establish the new commission.  The executive order requires all members to give their full cooperation to enhance what the commission would be doing and not complying could result in dismissal at any level.

There had also been a Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) since 1953 and in 1993 it was revamped by having thirteen board members and what it does was independent of the NYPD, although it can appoint three board members, the other originating from the Mayor’s office and the City Council.  The board could investigate complaints such as using excessive force, abusing authority, lack of courtesy, and languages that are offensive or slurs. In addition, the commission could also look into any kind of corruption allegations.

How Bratton Was Running the NYPD

Bratton initially decided to bring change to the agency by applying a manger’s approach utilizing modern business theory and hoped to lift the low performing police agency to a much higher level of accomplishment. He started out by choosing young and experienced superior officers to do the day to day job of the department.  The fact that Bratton was able to reach down the chain instead of those who were next in line has made a big difference in invigorating the force.   One of his best abilities was his choosing business management techniques to run the NYPD because the methods worked superbly as it was attested by the decrease on the crime rate.  One introduction made by Briton that made a big difference was Computerized Statistics (Compstat) because it had a remarkable scope, it was swift for implementing, and always leave an impressive impact on the performance.  Compstat does not only focus on measuring, it goes as far as  managing improved outcomes.  What it introduced and enabled was the introduction of regular meetings among key officials in the force so that they can coordinate and direct their efforts toward a direction they agreed upon.  This is unlike what it used to be where statistics lagged behind for months before it is available for use and that used to make it stale.  Whereas, while using Compstat it was possible to tell quickly if the initiatives introduced were working or not.  It was possible for the first time to have crime statistics at the disposal of those who need it to see how the police are working precinct by precinct and around the city.  There is a semi-weekly Compstat meeting that involve the departments top executives that include precinct commanders and commanders of the detective squads coming from different areas of the city.  What takes place at such meetings was exhaustive review of crime trends, tactics how to deter them, and how to allocate the resources to do so.  Those who attend such meetings would have to come back every five weeks or so to reveal how the efforts were paying off.

Consequently, Bratton’s approach toward management relying heavily on computer-mapped crime statistics was different when compared to the earlier model where control was centralized and made up of reactive bureaucracy and its latest version that embraced community policing based on effective response to crime calls and effective handling of the cases after that.   This is due to the fact that Compstat bases its analysis on complete and varying assumptions that compare cause and safety.   That is so because there were four areas of focus to specialize on when Bratton was the commissioner: accurate and timely intelligence has to be at the disposal of the force, rapid deployment of forces when needed, using tactics that are effective and tested, and to back all these with up to the minute follow-up and assessment to arrive at whatever the outcome would be.  Such measure also had gotten a boost from an increased number in the size of the force making the drive safe streets and cities, leadership that originates from both the commissioner and the mayor, and the decentralized precinct commanders.   No one had believed when he set a goal of 10% of crime reduction in his first year in office, where the actual drop had been recorded as 12%.  Sources such as George kelling had argued that effective crime control should start at the bottom of the crime scale not at the top.  But Bratton ordered to treat both top crimes related to felony and bottom ranked ones such as quality of life offenses simultaneously.

Another major differences from the earlier era including Murphy’s is making the precinct commanders the locus of authority, as well accountability.  That was very much different from the earlier systems that had a command structure centered on high level officials.  Compstat enabled the introduction of centrally devised strategies and availed tools the precinct commanders can put to effective use, because the tool enabled them to access up-to-date statistics, spot if there are patterns in the criminal activity of their precinct, and could go on coming up with solutions identifiable with the requirement of the central administration.  This also could enable everyone involved to know that they are reading from the same page, which is the data availed by Compstat.  Although worth mentioning are the meetings that take place among the cities eight borough commanders that take three hours, where the commanders were would answer questions about the pattern and trends of their analysis, the measures they have taken to solve problems, and their effort in coordinating what they are doing with other units in the force.  The decision should always cover the ten known police strategies: guns off the street, curbing youth violence wherever it takes place, making the city free of drug dealers, dealing with domestic violence, claiming back lost public spaces, auto crime, corruption, controlling the roads and streets, observing professionalism, and pursing fugitives.  Furthermore, even if there had been scuffles between the forces and citizens that raise eyebrows, Bratton had managed to direct the focus to offences such as corruption.


Compstat stands for computerized statistics and was the introduction of Commissioner Ratton. In essence, a meeting takes place twice a week on Wednesday and Friday mornings between 7 am and 10 am.  The idea behind it as described by a commissioner is the meetings are part of an interactive management strategy focused in enhancing the acceptability of the force members at every level and it gives local commanders the discretion they require by availing them the necessary resources to base their decisions on.  It would further compel those in charge to put more emphasis on crime and quality of life in the location that they are responsible for and it makes sure that all are implementing the eight crime and quality of life strategies across the force.  It also serves as a forum where precinct and other commanders can exchange idea with top executives about the problems they are facing, as well as air what their inputs in crime reduction are. In its turn it will enable the top executives to monitor the activities of the precincts and operational units by evaluating the performance of middle managers so that they can allocate the available resources effectively to bring down the crime rate, as well as to improve the force’s performance.  What happens at the meetings where up to 100 officers could be in attendance could be inferred from the big room where the meetings take place that has advanced and complicated computer and telecommunication system that enable the execution of crime statistics corresponding it to precise areas using pin maps mounted on the wall where all attendants could see it clearly.  The chair of such meetings could usually be a chief of a department and gets assistance from a deputy commissioner.  The representatives from precincts and other unit commanders from the various boroughs would present the crime statistics they gathered for their own area and what they had accomplished, at least on a monthly basis.  They can do that from a lectern at the center of the room and the statistics they provide would be viewable by all participants in real time on big screen mounted on the walls.

There is an exhaustive question and answer session dealing with trends, as well as specific crime scenes that took place in the various precincts.  On a meeting like this, it is possible to spot good or bad performance and a solution how to deal with the bad ones could come up, as there are experts on the panel that could part with their interpretations and recommendations. If there are measures to take the chief would announce them and how they would be implemented could be on the discussion.  Eventually, other policing issues such as assault, rudeness, including harassment would be heard if they had originated from citizens and there will be a deliberation as to what appropriate measures to take.

Overall, the whole arrangement is more than meeting where poor performance would be followed up by swift measures applied on the next Monday if the meeting had taken place on a Friday.  Such tough stance had contributed to the attainment of a high success rate while Ratton was in charge.  After he left NYPD, the process is in use till date.  One way of enhancing its effectiveness was any good performance will not only get reward publicly, but it will be implemented in the other locations too.

Other contribution COMPAST had in addition to availing up to the minute statistics of what takes place in the force was the profile of the unit commanders daily activity including their experience, education, and other services they had with the unit or with other sources.  Overall, it would be possible to mine useful information about every unit commander when the need arises that include failure and good accomplishments.  Other detailed information include what kind of overtime the members are getting, number of vehicles and other accidents, absence rate, whether it is due to sickness or injuries and others.  Force members can also see if there had been complaints lodged on the members and what the measure taken was to deal with the matter.   The gathering and presentation of statistics was so dynamic and complete, it is possible to see what kind of work or caseload each member is handling, that could include debriefing or search warrants executed.


Silverman, Eli, 1999, “NYPD BATTLES CRIME, Innovative Strategies in Policing

”,  Boston: Northeastern University Press.



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