The New York Police Department
The work of a policeman is both demanding and complex. In order to be a policeman one must have a strong character, willpower and other man-like attributes. One of the strongest and largest city police force of the United States is represented by the New York City Police Department. The NYPD was originally formed in 1845 and serves as the main law enforcement group within the five boroughs of the New York City. The NYPD is considered one of the oldest police departments in the United States having its origins to the Dutch night watch of 1625. Since New York City has always been an attraction not only for tourists, but also for people from different spheres of life, which would bring lots of characters to the city. Therefore, the police officers of New York City are always working closely together with people from different ethnic backgrounds in order to create close relationships with the community while promoting the community-based policing methods.
Traits of a Police Man
One of the main attributes of a policeman is his professionalism and level of comfort while dealing with people. This is particularly important in the process of building trustful relationships between colleagues as well as victims and suspects. In recent years it has been known that the cultural competence of the police officer profession has been rising through higher levels of awareness, knowledge and constant development of skills. Furthermore, the job of a policeman has become culturally intertwined and emancipated through multicultural communities, which are composed of various ethnic groups. The United States and New York City in particular have seen tremendous increase in the mix of different cultures, which are present in the city and, thus bring many changes to the law enforcement group’s work ethic. One of the main problems in the law enforcement system are crimes of hate, which take place in the criminal system and are not easy to stop.
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Multicultural Society and Police Man’s Work
There are a variety of challenges and complex daily situations for the police officers that are dealing with people from many ethnic groups at the same time. The majority of adverse situations occur when the police officers may not know the specific rights of some ethnic groups, which in some cases pose safety issues for the policemen. The first character quality is being able to ensure absence of prejudice against any of the races. If one compares the data available on the measure of the quality of life for the ethnically diverse groups, there is noticeable improvement in regards to accustoming to the American way life; however, they still face some barriers that are connected to their original upbringing. Therefore, in order to help regulate the activity of the law enforcement agencies, the following recommendations were introduced: enriching the data collection on ethnic discrimination, encouraging the civil rights coercion and introduce more rigorous laws against hate crimes. The multicultural society makes the duty of the police officer more complicated due to the racial pressure, ethnicity combined with an individual’s personal background. Thus, it would be ridiculous to constantly point out to the law enforcement agents that diversity is important in a society and should be encouraged when their daily activities are complicated by the diversity of the population.
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Immigration in New York City
Undoubtedly, immigration is not a new phenomenon in the USA, especially in New York City. It is known that New York is the one of largest diverse and ethnical metropolises in the world. According to the Department of City Planning, there are around three million immigrants in New York. Virtually every citizen can claim that he/she is descendent of someone who migrated from abroad. Statistically, it is known that six out of ten New Yorkers are immigrants or their children. The most dense immigrant regions in New York are Brooklyn and Queens. However, Bronx and Staten Island immigrant have been rapidly growing since 2000. Needless to say that New York is a melting pot where immigrants try to adapt to local culture by bringing their own customs and traditions. Being a police officer in New York is extremely difficult because he/ she should not only fulfill his/ her duties, but also be flexible to those diverse groups.
It is true that law enforcement may show negative attitude towards immigrants, which may be recognized as an act of discrimination; however, it is also true that under stressful circumstances it may be really difficult to cope with emotions. Being under pressure, human negative attitude may become apparent and may lead to use of unprofessional language or even rude words to the ethnical groups. It is necessary to mention that every police officer should be professional, since he/ she has received adequate knowledge and education on how to work under pressure. They should fulfill their duties without bias, despite possible inner prejudices or hatred towards different ethnical communities. Many citizens have claimed that some officers attempted to scream and even beat immigrants because of the fact that they are not native citizens and they have no rights to live in the USA. This discriminative behavior shows unprofessionalism and inappropriateness of chosen career. What is more, in case of difficult communication with an immigrant, an officer has to find a translator (Barlow, 2000).
Understanding of “Racial Flash Points”
Furthermore, officers should know that in “racial flash points” different diverse groups can express negative behavior towards each other, since they may believe that new comers may take their job place and bring economic problems. Thus, this rude behavior can transfer to hostile relationships between these ethnical groups. For example, Arab and Korean immigrants have had hostile relationships for a long time. Hence, law enforcement representatives should not try to solve this inner act of hatred. On the other hand, he should play a role of cultural mediator who wants to help the person despite his/ her ethnical background. For example, somebody may complain that Koreans do not usually smile when they greet people by showing their rude manners. In this case, police officer should explain that the absence of smile is not evidence of hostile behavior that will lead to crime commitment. Also, there are some people who say that they suffer from discrimination of Arab owners who do not want to hire them because of their different religious beliefs. In this situation, a police officer should explain that there exist a large number of reasons why a boss does not want to hire personnel (small store, inability to pay a good salary, bankruptcy, etc). Of course, one should understand that not all problems are cultural; however, officer’s ability to understand diverse ethnical group will help to dispel tension among them (Greene, 2002).
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Also, it is necessary to mention that if a police officer wants to protect all citizens, it becomes essential to comprehend the cultural scope of crimes. Undoubtedly, in some cultures people may commit crime thinking that it is not illegal but that it is edifying. For instance, in Muslim counties spouse abuse is recognized as an act of reeducation. However, following such cultural traditions does not mean that they should not be punished. In a multicultural society, law enforcement representatives must explain to the victims and the criminals what “normal” and “illegal” behavior mean. Undoubtedly, a police officer should count ethnical background of the person before punishing him/ her. It does not mean that punishment will be softened; it means that a police officer has appropriately adopted law rules to the diverse group (Oliver, 2001).
Respect of other Customs and Traditions
Many law enforcement representatives claim that their job is to uphold the law; however, it is not up to them to apply law based on personal prejudices and judgments. Consider Vietnam traditions, according to which, people are allowed to eat dogs. Moreover, followers of the Sikh religion have to wear a ceremonial dagger even during sleep. Another good example of various traditions is roasting whole pig in personal garden by Pacific Islanders. The examples mentioned above show that numerous cultural and ethnical backgrounds exist that may be strange, but it does not mean that they should be restricted or punished. Understanding the cultural dimensions of a crime will help to build tolerant police–community relations.
Nine Steps of Improving Community Relations
Scholars have identified nine vital steps how to improve community relations, such as:
- Make positive contacts with diverse groups. Different ethnical communities should see a law enforcement representative not only in negative situations, but also in positive ones, when he tries just to talk or to help.
- Give the community a possibility to see a police officer in a no enforcement role.
- Treat others objectively and fairly in spite of prejudices and judgments.
- Remember that each ethnical group is unique and there are some criminals as well as good citizens;
- Be friendly and tolerant towards ethnical minorities;
- Avoid discussion of race and sex discrimination. Topics about different religions are also not welcomed.
- Explain the role of a police officer in a polite manner.
- Do not be afraid to be a cultural mediator in the department.
- Make conclusions from the unsuccessful past situations. Ask the question whether you belong to the past or you are a part of the future?
All in all, dramatic changes in the ethnic and rapid growth of immigration have created new racial makeup of the society in New York City. Thus, these transformations have led to numerous challenges at all levels of police work. In this case, it is highly recommended to show willingness and adaptability to understand culture, traditions, and customs in the new diverse communities in order to uphold legal rights and protection of the citizens. Moreover, interaction between ethnical groups and police officers should be based only on tolerant and respectful principles. Undoubtedly, law enforcement representative’s knowledge and understanding of the variety of different cultures will ultimately decrease the number of crimes and dispel tension between an officer and resident.