The New York City Police Department (NYPD) is the largest police department in the United States, with 32,284 officers as of 2009, and serving the combined populations of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. As with many police departments in major cities, the public is most often exposed to their activities via media coverage. This media attention also appears most often in conjunction with high profile crimes or scandals.
In analyzing communication with the media, this paper will focus attention on coverage in The New York Times, which is the largest local metropolitan newspaper in the United States, with a daily circulation of 928,000, and has been published in New York City since its founding in 1851.
The newspaper article analysis is supplemented by interviews with individuals with unique perspectives on communication techniques of the NYPD. These individuals include NYPD Detective Cheryl Crispin, a member of the Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Public Information, Professor Dorothy M. Schulz, Ph.D. of New York-based John Jay College of Criminal Justice and former Newsday police columnist and author Leonard Levitt.
Being a large public service department, the public communication of the NYPD differs from that of a typical organization or a smaller public service department. By reviewing the existing models of public relations and examining the communication of four major NYPD cases from the last four decades, this paper examines the models of communication that have been utilized by the NYPD in the past, and discusses a public information hybrid model that could be effective in their future communication.