Assigned to Patrol: Neighborhoods, Police, and Changing Deployment Practices in New York City before 1930
Abstract

Police are widely assumed to have lost close links to neighborhood as a result of the demise of foot patrol and reformism which cut off police from local information and concerns. But as this study of New York's police shows, police-community ties were always limited, and department policy was not neighborhood-friendly after the 1860s. A patrol officer could not possibly know every one of thousands of people on post, and the instability of urban residence made contact and knowledge more difficult. So did officers' growing propensity to live far from where they worked, a propensity encouraged by official policies. Police ties to the locality were weakened further by bureaucratic factors such as shift rotations and non-patrol assignments. Aided by call boxes and other technologies, police management increasingly regarded patrolmen as interchangeable parts in a large policing machine. These changes in official policies, rooted both in managerialism and reformism, were effective earlier than has been thought, and are visible in the 1880s, decades before the automobile began to be important in the NYPD and well before Progressive reform.