Transparency, Accountability and Engagement: A Recipe For Building Trust In Policing.


Kathleen O’Reilly


This research focuses on the challenges facing police today, with agencies being asked to stretch their finite resources to address an ever-increasing threat to homeland security. In New York City (NYC), the requisite shift in manpower and resources to necessary counterterrorism efforts resulted in a shift in the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) crime and control strategy. The successful year-over-year reduction in crime in NYC is impressive, as is the department’s ability to thwart any further substantial terrorist attacks since 9/11. The research, however, found that the NYPD’s proactive strategies following 9/11 resulted in many residents questioning the legitimacy and transparency of its practices, especially those residing in minority communities.

A historical analysis of the NYPD found that an informal community-policing model was emerging up until the 9/11 attacks. Literally overnight, the NYPD was forced to shift priorities and adapt to the newly emerged homeland security threat. Although, by many accounts, its counterterrorism and crime control strategies have been largely successful, the NYPD can profit from looking at best practices. With this in mind, the research examined the counterterrorism policies in the United Kingdom and found that the NYPD can benefit from emulating its English counterpart’s substantial efforts in community outreach and collaboration, especially within minority communities where mistrust and terrorism is most likely to breed.

It is recommended that the NYPD increase its community policing efforts by devoting more resources to community-based initiatives and formalizing department policy so that there is a clear-cut community-based policing model. These efforts will not only improve traditional crime-fighting efforts, but lead to greater public perception of police legitimacy. Muslim communities can also benefit from a Muslim Coordination Officer to facilitate community building and enhance police trust. It is furthermore recommended that the NYPD increase transparency and accountability by embracing new technology. Most importantly, the NYPD should prioritize the department-wide implementation of body-worn cameras and initiate a more robust social media policy.



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