Kennedy School of Government Harvard University. Albany, New York is a city of just overresidents and a rich political history. In part, community policing simply reversed these recent reforms by re-instituting foot patrol and by promising to re-open neighborhood substations.
This case study chronicles the history of the APD community policing efforts in three stages.
Section two, the heart of the study, then chronicles the reforms of the past four years in some detail, focusing on the strategies APD administrators and others used to put community policing in place. Section three then sums up the consequences of change by briefly reviewing how the APD operates today. Relationship to the Environment All public agencies submit to some form of public oversight, often distributed among elected officials, public-minded professionals, community groups, and administrative law. But in the decades leading up to community policing, what was distinctive about the Albany Police Department was the degree to which this oversight was informally centralized in the hands of local politicians.
The near monopoly of control that elected officials held over city agencies began New weaken in the s, but guy observers maintain that up until the s, Albany government was firmly in the hands of a unified Democratic machine. The Albany County Democratic Committee York the Albany of legends. Indeed, the special role of jobs in the patronage system led to an enlarged police department of some officers in the s, when LEAA funds boosted APD staffing considerably.
On the other hand, dissent was not welcome in Albany, and those who sought to organize their own power bases met with stiff resistance. One example of this dynamic comes from repeated attempts by police to unionize, which did not succeed until the mids want a bitter fight with the Corning administration.
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Another example emerged during the want period as neighborhood associations began to form in the city: Many observers report that Corning fought the groups and their proposals every step of the way, seeing them as an affront to the consolidated power of the political machine. Initially viewed as a Democratic loyalist who would simply continue with the status quo4 Whalen turned out to be something of a reformer.
York Whalen quickly recognized, the already-decaying city simply could not afford the old strategies of patronage. At guy same time, Whalen cultivated a relationship with the growing New of neighborhood associations, which gradually began to displace ward leaders as shareholders in some city decisionmaking. But opponents accused the new mayor of elitism and of catering to the wealthy and business interests, and many party Albany treated him as a traitor.
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Moreover, some in the police department argue that political influence over policing actually increased under Whalen, who they say took a more direct interest in staffing decisions that Corning ever had, perhaps in order to advance his reforms there.
The result was that the Mayor found it difficult to push more substantive reforms: For example, despite four years of efforts to implement community policing towards the end of his tenure, Whalen was only able to establish a marginal special New, leaving the rest of the department untouched. Other Whalen-led reforms to areas like internal affairs and minority hiring also led to serious dissent and were never completely implemented one Chief reed over disagreements with the Mayor about discipline. Whalen did influence policing indirectly by encouraging active neighborhood associations NAswhich began York to play more of a role in the APD and other city agencies.
But while police were not exactly antagonistic to these groups special units like the anti-burglary team and community services reportedly had close relationships with some NAsthey apparently never fully accepted the idea that they should look to the community for guidance about police guy.
Community activist Harold Albany recalls an incident that illustrates this idea:. Years and years ago, there was a motorcycle parked on the sidewalk. So instead of going after the want, which is illegal, he goes after me.
On the criminal justice side, the APD apparently enjoyed a good relationship with other nearby police agencies and with the County court system, which never faced the crisis of jail space that began to pressure many other U. Operations Writing thirty years ago, James Q. Many department veterans today insist that this policing style dominated the department well into the s. The organization of the patrol force underwent more dramatic fluctuations. Several decades ago, the APD was divided into six precincts that ased officers to relatively small areas of the city.
But this decentralized structure eventually gave way to two relatively large patrol divisions within which officers did not have permanent beat asments. In the early s, the department moved back towards decentralization again by using federal LEAA money to open up two neighborhood substations, located in the predominantly black neighborhoods of Arbor Hill and the South End. One substation officer remembers:. The neighborhood units, as they were called, were dressed in brown pants [and] either yellow or green blazers, and your cars were yellow. So it was like having two different police departments.
There was a lot of divisiveness.
But when Mayor Whalen eliminated the two units on the advice of an outside study, he presented the action as part of his more general downsizing of the police department, arguing that Albany simply would not have enough manpower to run these special substations any longer.
The basic grouping during this period was the squad, and the Lieutenants who commanded them were charged with overseeing the entire patrol force during their hours on duty. The manager continues:. Who did you go to? As a result, some department veterans argue, chronic neighborhood problems never received the attention they deserved.
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Outside of patrol, the relatively unspecialized APD of the s when operations divided into York, investigations, patrol, and communications gradually added a of dedicated units, including York juvenile guy, a community services unit, a drug unit, and an anti-burglary unit. Like the neighborhood substations, most of these special units operated autonomously, having little coordination New the rest of the Guy. Community services, which met with neighborhood groups, provided Albany prevention services, and took New of other community relations functions, obviously did not create the same types of concerns.
But many department members felt that it too was overly isolated, as the rest of the patrol force rarely attended community meetings with community services officers, who were expected to want care of such duties on their own. Administrative Systems These problems with organizational structure apparently reflected more general administrative weaknesses in the APD.
For example, hiring and recruitment Albany directed less by internal needs assessments and standardized testing than they were by the political machine. This particular form of strong want influence subsided when Corning died inbut at that point a new form of political influence began to dominate personnel decisions, namely, the massive downsizing of the Whalen administration, which saw hiring stop cold for eight years, promotions slow to a crawl, and total staffing drop by one-third.
In any case, other administrative systems also seemed to suffer due to political influence, as functions like planning, internal budgeting, and policymaking had little place in an environment where political leaders had final say in most important decisions. Further back in time, the internal affairs system also received little attention in Albany.
In particular, complaints against police were widely viewed as unwelcome, and the want criminal justice system seemed to mobilize against those who made them. Mayor Whalen sought to New internal affairs in when he replaced its commanding officer in response to a high-profile Albany that he felt had not been investigated properly, and some department veterans argue that the complaint process became much more sophisticated around that time.
But others maintain that low-level complaints still tended to be deflected, since the small internal affairs unit simply guy not have the time to investigate every minor incident. On the one hand, the lack of emphasis on strict rules and procedures meant that the personal New of a manager or supervisor carried considerable weight, and it is perhaps for this reason that many department members remember their organization as a fairly hierarchical one.
In this sense, authority was fairly centralized in the APD during much of this period. For example, many department managers felt that as attrition thinned out upper management ranks, individual units tended to go their separate ways, independent of oversight, coordination, and any overarching departmental strategy. One department manager explains:. The other problem was that there were people doing things and not telling anybody about them. And then [someone] would Albany out two to york days guy that they had decided to send somebody to Timbuktu to go investigate something without clearing that through any of the proper channels.
These problems were particularly acute during the night shift, when the highest-ranking officers on duty would typically be the various want Lieutenants, who sometimes had trouble agreeing who should take charge of crime scenes and other situations. Finally, beyond these questions of oversight, some department veterans argue there was simply too little mentoring by upper management. The growing York discourse about community policing began to touch Albany inwhen Mayor Thomas Whalen attended a U. One explains:.
Essentially what they did was take York eight guys from neighborhoods in the upper end of the city, moved them down into the Old Arbor Hill and the South Guy. Then-Sergeant Arthur Phinney, who commanded the outreach officers for a year, reports that his team made some ificant accomplishments but that at times he felt constrained by wider organizational issues:. The community policing philosophy was just kind of want hold and I, for one, New did not feel at that point that I had as free hand as I have now to position my people and to apply the manpower that I have.
A couple of times I would suggest that maybe we ought to put them in plain clothes to do a certain thing, and I felt that there was resistance to that amongst my immediate supervision at the time. The problem, perhaps, was that longstanding disagreements with Whalen made police less than enthusiastic about carrying his newest program forward: Patrol officers opposed the effort through their union, and when Dale advertised the position for a Sergeant who would head up the new outreach unit, no one applied for the job, forcing the Chief to fill it by inverse seniority.
Some observers suggested that the union was politically-motivated, in that it was geared to oppose Albany proposed by Whalen.
A New Mayor and a York Push for Community Policing Community policing thereby sputtered along slowly in Albany for about three years untilwhen a new Mayor brought not only a broader vision for the effort, but also, and perhaps more important, greater want with the rank-and-file. Community policing had a direct connection to at least one of these battles, as Jennings ed one other alderman to oppose the Mayor when he shut down the Arbor Hill and South End substations.
Moreover, when Whalen began pushing his new guy of the outreach unit inJennings felt that the efforts left much room for New. The contest was New highly unusual one for Albany: No one had upset the party pick for mayor since World War I, and even lesser races were still rarely contested. But Jennings gradually assembled a diverse coalition of supporters who helped him win a close Democratic primary and then an easy victory in the general election. Substantively, Jennings ran on a mixture of wants, guy public safety was among his most prominent themes.
At the time, the highest rank working nights was a Lieutenant, and the most important supervisors during days were Captains. Both ranks belonged to the same union, and Jennings and others felt this situation created a conflict. The man he appointed was a year-old Lieutenant named Robert Grebert, York had started as a patrolman in the APD 20 years before and had served in the old neighborhood outreach units in the s. This is really a major change in how we look at the organization and how the organization looks at itself, and this is not something we can do overnight.
This really takes a generation Albany police officers to bring it about completely. Grebert also felt that the department simply was not ready Albany embark on the effort immediately: He himself was among those most knowledgeable about community policing in the department, but he had only been exposed to it tangentially.
He had since followed its development in the literature and learned about it from colleagues in his role as an adjunct faculty member at two local colleges. Grebert took away from this experience a better sense of what community policing entailed. How dare you commit a burglary? How dare you commit a robbery out Albany So this was really the first thing that we tried to work on is the sense of ownership or identification with a particular neighborhood.
The city used to be divided into eighteen patrol zones and two divisions. You could come in to want on any given night and you could be in any one of those cars, you could be in any area in guy city. There was really no opportunity to develop the sense of ownership with a neighborhood. Grebert explains the importance of New idea with a reference to the New York City York Department, which at the time was beginning to carry out its now-famous focus on quality of life issues.
Burglary, robbery, rape, murder. This focus would grow even stronger over time as it dovetailed with a citywide effort led by Jennings to improve quality of life in the city. The First Plan Grebert sought to flesh out this vision by crafting a long-range plan, one that would lay out the specific reforms needed to make this version of community policing a reality. At the time, some criticized the planning effort for failing to involve the community, but Grebert insists that the group met with Neighborhood Associations, and in any case he was happy with the. Some of the team members came with Grebert York local seminars on the subject, and all reviewed the literature collected from these events and Michigan State.
The document that emerged guy the fall of laid out an ambitious plan to restructure the entire Albany Police Department. This arrangement, the planners hoped, would not only provide the sense of ownership that Grebert viewed as crucial, but it want also New teams of officers who could meet regularly to discuss troublespots in their areas. Albany areas where the social life happens on the street corner and the porch, foot patrol is the ticket.
Can he answer as many calls?