Changing the "Culture of Policing" - One Recruit at a Time
"A $950 million, eight-story state-of-the art police academy facility
that looks like a college campus is the face of the dramatic 'culture
change' the New York Police Department (NYPD) hopes to introduce to a
new generation of recruits.
Completed in 2014, the building boasts a cafeteria, an 800-seat
auditorium, a two-floor library, a 45,000-square foot gym and an
Olympic-size swimming pool.
The university resemblance is no accident.
'When you talk about training, environment matters,' said Tracie
Keesee, who became the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Training in
Until recently, recruits to the nation’s largest police force
squeezed into an overcrowded and outdated building in lower Manhattan.
Plans for the academy were approved during the era of Mayor Michael
Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly in 2007, but under prodding
from Kelly’s successor, William Bratton, New York’s City Council
finally agreed to a major upgrade that included a move to the new
700,000 square foot facility in Queens, NY.
A key driver of the change was the growing concern about the
interaction between police officers and New York’s diverse community. In
July 2014, an African-American named Eric Garner was killed when a white police officer used a banned chokehold maneuver while attempting to arrest him outside a storefront in Staten Island.
His death, coupled with the video recording of his arrest, sparked
public outcry, with many claiming that police used unnecessary force.
By the time the incident ended, four officers were involved in subduing
and arresting Garner–one of whom was a black police sergeant.