The New York Police Department: NYPD Essay Example
The New York Police Department, or NYPD, is one of the most prominent police forces known in the United States. Due to their infamy around the country, the media portrays them in a multitude of manners throughout the media. Every television show, news article, and story portray the NYPD in a different light, so a person can only begin to establish a perception of the NYPD by evaluating each media source and generalizing from the overall message of every source.
In an interview with NPR, Steve Osborne details what he considers to be his most intense stories from his twenty years as an NYPD officer. He describes the typical night on the job as hectic, averaging twenty calls each night. Among these calls were ones that he will never forget. One of his most dangerous encounters occurred when he was still a rookie; he chased a suspected robber into a train station and followed him onto the tracks. Luckily, he jumped out of the way at the last second, and narrowly missed the speeding train (Osborne). On one hand, this story shows how officers are willing to risk their lives for the sake of justice, but, on the other hand, it shows how some officers can be careless and let situations escalate to more dangerous scenarios than necessary.
Additionally, he includes a story of one of the worst situations that an officer must deal with in his career. In the middle of August, he responded to a call reporting a foul odor in an apartment building. When he entered the apartment, he was not surprised to find the decaying corpse of a woman. Although he knew what to expect, nothing can prepare a person for something that horrific, especially considering he was only twenty-five years old at the time. However, the worst part of this situation was confronting the mother of the victim because she begged to see her daughter one last time, but Osborne knew he could not let her in. He had to convince the mother that she would not want her last memory of her daughter to be seeing her decaying body. He had only been working on the force for a year and a half, and he had no experience with consoling the mother of a dead woman (Osborne). Unfortunately, part of the job is being able to take control and make the most logical decisions in the face of tragedy. This is one fact that is highly honorable because it is almost impossible to imagine what kind of strength and skill it takes to handle a situation so tragic.
His final story is one that he finds most disheartening. He drove up on a fight in a park between two men, and he tried to get their attention by turning on his lights and siren, but this was not enough to stop their fight. Eventually, one of the men pulled out a ten-inch knife and was about to murder the other man right in front of his squad car, so he made a last-minute decision to drive towards the men and tap them with his car. The man and his knife went flying, and he had saved the other man’s life without having to use lethal force on anyone. Unfortunately, that is not how the surrounding public perceived the situation.
Crowds began to form of people who had not witnessed the fight, but only saw a police car hitting a seemingly innocent man. They started chanting “F the police” and throwing bricks and bottles at his car. Due to this, and other similar experiences, Osborne feels as if police officers do not get the credit they deserve. He risks his life at his job every day, but he feels like he gets little to no appreciation for what he does (Osborne). Situations like this are most complex for those outside of the NYPD to comprehend. A person never wants to tell a victim of police brutality, or any abuse, that they do not believe them, but they also must remember that this person could be a criminal who is lying to escape consequences. It is important to most people to begin with believing the apparent victim until they can assess every aspect of the incident which proves to be frustrating for many police officers in certain situations.
In an article by the Washington Post, Karen Tumulty evaluates how much the residents of New York approve of the NYPD. In January of 2013, 70 percent of those interviewed said that they approved of the job that the NYPD was carrying out. However, by November of 2014, this approval rate dropped to 54 percent. Not only did the overall approval rate drop significantly, but more specifically, the view of the NYPD of people of color became vastly negative. Only 35 percent of African Americans and 43 percent of Hispanics approved of the NYPD’s performance. Furthermore, the overall approval rate of the police commissioner was the lowest it had been in over a dozen years (Tumulty).
Quinnipiac University Assistant Director Maurice Carroll predicted that this drop in approval could be due to the controversy over stop-and-frisks, a tactic that mostly targets young, innocent people of color. Additionally, the city is still reacting to the death of Eric Garner, who died when an officer placed him into a chokehold. Tumulty’s article does not address any further speculation as to why the approval rate saw such a significant drop in just one year. Due to this, I surmise police brutality has been a key factor in the decrease of approval of the NYPD and has continued to be a driving force in the public’s opinions towards law enforcement up to this day.
The popularity of New York itself produces a large amount of television shows and movies set in the city. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a sitcom that focuses on the 99th precinct of the Brooklyn NYPD, but the show portrays a more romanticized look at being an officer in the NYPD due to its comedic nature. In the tenth episode of the third season, the main character, Jake Peralta, gets to live out a reenactment of what inspired him to become a cop- the movie Die Hard. A group of criminals robs a department store on Christmas Eve, and Jake and two of his coworkers are trapped inside the store. In the end, they save the day and catch the robbers while saving the hostages (Goor). Most of the episodes have a pleasant ending like this one which makes the NYPD seem more enjoyable than it may be for officers in real life.
The writers obviously added Jake’s ongoing excitement throughout the episode about the parallels to his favorite movie for comedic purposes, but I would imagine it would not go down well if an officer was genuinely excited about a robbery and hostage situation in real life. It may seem obvious to most people that television is nothing like real life because it is dramatized for entertainment purposes, but unfortunately, it is not that clear to everyone. To people who are more impressionable, television shows like this can cause them to not take police officers seriously or to not respect the job that they do.
It is difficult to understand what it is genuinely like to be an NYPD officer without being one yourself. Television shows portray imaginative scenarios, interviewed officers only tell the stories that they find to be most enticing, and most media articles are strongly biased either for or against police forces.
I have a large amount of respect for police officers, but I understand that some officers can abuse the position. Everyone should take stories of police brutality seriously, and officers who commit these offenses should not be able to keep their jobs. However, it is important to still appreciate the work of officers who do the right thing. It is easy to forget how serious their jobs can get, but it is important to recognize and appreciate how much police officers give up and put at risk to keep the public safe.