Policing in America: A Framework for Reform

Over the last few years, policing in America has become a constant topic of consideration among local communities, with the conversation reaching the ears of state and federal officials. Though there is no clear path on how to address police reform, the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City suggests a series of foundational changes that shifts the narrative around policing from that of “force” to one of “service.”

The Crime Commission recently published From Police Force to Police Service: A New Framework for Policing in the U.S., which highlights several recommendations that police agencies can implement to build better relations with their communities as a police service. Authors Richard Aborn and Claire Abrahams specifically propose six areas for consideration: (1) Addressing implicit and explicit bias; (2) Psychological screening and targeted recruitment; (3) Front-line supervisors; (4) Discipline and early warning systems; (5) Strategic and effective metrics; (6) Reimaging the computer comparison statistics (Compstat) tool.

Aborn and Abrahams argue that implementing effective changes across these key areas can help strike the balance between reducing crime and reforming the practice of policing. Stressing service over force will reduce aggressive policing, thus building strong community partnerships and enhance crime fighting capabilities.

Implemented collectively, reforms in these six areas would take any police force a long way down the path of converting to a police service, all working to address and combat instances of aggressive policing that might be associated with an overly aggressive police force.

Force will always be a part of policing. In line with the guardian versus warrior debate, the challenge is to not let the force aspects of policing dominate the culture of policing.

The report also addresses crime reduction and challenges faced in disadvantaged communities, such as resource inequity and continued cycles of trauma. The report can be read in full on the Citizen Crime Commission of New York City’s website.

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