Based on this chapter 4 (Evaluating How the NYPD Handles Crime Victims Judgements based on statistical performance Measures) in the textbook "The New York City Police Department The impact of its policies and practices", does NYPD treat victims well? Explain why or why not?
Would you change anything? If so, what. If not, why not? Address costs as well.
If one draws one's opinion regarding the manner in which crime victims are routinely treated by the New York City Police Department from Andrew Karmen's essay titled "How the NYPD Handles Crime Victims: Judgments Based on Statistical Performance Measures," then the department has substantial room for improvement.
Karmen's essay, the fourth chapter in the volume titled The New York City Police Department: The Impact of Its Policies and Practices, takes a cynical view of the police department's performance with respect to victims of crime. While Karmen notes the declining rates of crime in New York and in many other major cities, he spends considerable effort arguing that the crime statistics for New York are unreliable due to political pressures to present the city as safer than it actually is. Police officers, Karmen states, citing police department whistleblowers and others, are regularly pressured to report crimes as less serious than is actually the case. The drop in crime, to the extent it existed, was less due, Karmen argues, to police department procedures than to other factors having nothing to do with those procedures.
A byproduct of this pattern of activity is the deficient manner in which crime victims have been handled. Too often, crime victims are not treated as cordially and seriously as their situations warrant. Their victimization is treated as a cold, anonymous development that leaves them with little sense of a successful resolution to their ordeals. As a way of improving the situation of crime victims, Karmen makes several recommendations:
- Make the reporting system more "victim friendly";
- Arrive on the scene of emergency calls as soon as possible;
- Solve the crime;
- Recover and return stolen property.
These recommendations are eminently logical. They are also, for the most part, irrelevant. New York City has a population of eight-and-a-half million people. It is a densely-populated metropolis with a tremendous amount of ethnic diversity. The city's police department is stretched thin and faces the daunting task of making life-and-death decisions on a daily basis. To cavalierly suggest that the department should "solve the crime" and "recover and return stolen property" as a way of improving the treatment of crime victims is a little fanciful. The number of crimes committed on a daily basis, even after a marked decline in the rate of crime, is too high to expect more than a marginal improvement in the rate at which crimes like burglary and assault are resolved. Additionally, recovering stolen property is relatively easy if the criminal is captured in the act of the crime, or if a tip from an anonymous citizen leads to a hidden cache of stolen goods. Otherwise, it is almost impossible to ensure the recovery and return of such items. Thieves often have established networks through which they traffic stolen goods. Chop shops, for example, are regularly used in the trafficking of stolen automobiles and those vehicles can be on a freighter to another country in a matter of days.
One possible way of improving the way in which crime victims are treated is through better training of officers in public relations. Again, however, the pace of activity for the NYPD does not always allow for the practical implementation of such measures. Increasing the size of the department would certainly help but at a financial cost that is too high for the city to absorb.
Ultimately, an improvement in the treatment of crime victims can only occur when crime rates fall to the level that allows a more personable treatment of individual victims. The discussion, therefore, comes full-circle. A reduction in crime that passes the sniff test of those who monitor the NYPD's performance to guard against manipulation of data remains the most important challenge.