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Back to Archives | Back to January 2005 Contents 

Innovations in Policing: Quality of Life Targeted Intervention Patrol

By Patrick J. Carroll, Police Commissioner, and Cosmo Costa, Lieutenant, New Rochelle Police Department, New Rochelle, New York











uality-of-life issues, such as drinking in public, urinating in public, disorderly behavior, and noise complaints, when not dealt with properly, can result in continued calls for service to the same locations, wasting departmental resources, making the department to look inefficient, and dissatisfying the public. Based on community statistics and numerous community meetings, it was evident in New Rochelle that the quality-of-life complaints far outnumbered other calls for police service.

In the past the response usually consisted of the sector officer responding to a citizen complaint or observing a violation while on patrol. This approach did not fully address the problem as well as the department and community had anticipated, so the department launched the Quality of Life Targeted Intervention Patrol (Q-TIP) program was designed. Q-TIP is a proactive intervention patrol designed to combat and eradicate neighborhood problems before they become long-term nuisance complaints that require costly and extensive resources to correct. The focus is on assessing and identifying community problems through various means, such as citizen complaints, neighborhood association meetings, neighborhood watch group observations, and department statistics.

The problems are then prioritized as to seriousness, public perception, effect on the neighborhood, resources, and time needed to correct the problem. The primary corrective tool used is enforcement, specifically arrests and city code summonses. Each of the 10 community policing beats in New Rochelle was configured to incorporate a trouble area, or location with recurring complaints. The 10 beat officers and two housing officers constitute the Neighborhood Response Team.

The beat officer is the primary enforcement agent, and the others in the team act as support and provide supplemental enforcement. The goal is to use a maximum number of resources for the shortest period of time to correct the condition and gain voluntary compliance.

The program allows for different initiatives, investigations, and patrol techniques. The design is flexible and seeks to get numerous units of the department working toward common goals. The program is responsive to community needs and is able to address new and emerging community problems. Some specific examples of initiatives that Q-TIP have resolve are as follows:

Towing and Booting Investigation: A city towing company was booting vehicles on private property and illegally charging an exorbitant fee for removal of the boot. Dozens of complaints were received at various lots throughout the city.

Q-TIP Response: Investigation revealed that numerous violations of local law were occurring. Neighborhood Response Team officers planned and videotaped a sting operation in which a car was parked and subsequently booted, with the owner of the car overcharged. The driver and owners of the tow company were charged with scheming to defraud and eventually closed for business, with numerous civil suits pending. A public service commercial was broadcast through local media and additional victims were identified. The case was then handed over to the district attorney for follow-up and restitution to the victims.

Disorderly Groups in Park: Multiple complaints were received regarding disorderly groups in the park during late night hours. This park is located in a residential neighborhood.

Q-TIP Response: Q-TIP proactively focused on enforcing park curfew, drinking, and drug use laws. The Department of Parks and Recreation was asked to perform regular cleanup and prune the trees and brush to improve visibility of the park for the police as well as neighborhood watch group members. Complaints dropped by 75 percent.

Disorderly Groups in Strip Mall: The department received daily complaints of disorderly groups harassing customers at a strip mall.

Q-TIP Response: Q-TIP was used to create a ban list. All identified persons were served with papers ordering them not to trespass in the strip mall. Complaints dropped to zero.

Municipal Housing Drug Problem: Several of the city's municipal housing authority properties were identified as areas of drug dealing and drug use. The Neighborhood Response Team identified the cause as pedestrian walk-through for drugs.

Q-TIP Response: High-intensity enforcement was initiated in the pedestrian walk-through areas. Using surveillance positions and apprehension teams to suppress illegal trespassers resulted in 70 arrests and complaints of drug dealing decreased by 70 percent.

Gang Intervention Patrol: The community began experiencing gang-related violence, with eight gang-related violent acts in one month alone.

Q-TIP Response: The Neighborhood Response Team members met with the New Rochelle School Board and jointly developed a plan to target at-risk youth in the middle school. Whenever an officer encountered suspected gang behavior (such as wearing gang clothing and paraphernalia) the officer would conduct a field stop. Then a letter is hand-delivered to the parents about the gang behavior observation and counseling is offered by the school district.
Q-TIP has been evaluated using several different methods, and the department has compared statistics on crimes, calls for service, arrests, and city code summonses have been made. Q-TIP has resulted in a total of 681 arrests from April 2003 through April 2004, and 1,328 city code summonses issued during the same time period. This enforcement has specifically addressed offenses that plagued certain communities. Additional concerns such as trust and perception of safety have been measured through neighborhood surveys, at community meetings, and during daily contacts between the police and the community. It is anticipated that all of these measures will continue to demonstrate that the police-community partnership remains strong, and there is a committed to improving the quality of life and reducing crime in New Rochelle.

Lessons Learned
The New Rochelle Police Department has learned several valuable lessons from Q-TIP. Training for all department members is imperative for any problem-oriented policing initiative to succeed. All members must have knowledge and skills to approach problems in a nontraditional manner, and to gain the trust and support of the community. Every department member must be a practitioner of community policing. Each step in the SARA (scanning, analysis, response, and assessment) model of problem solving is crucial. The problem must first be clearly identified and stated, which will allow the remaining three stages to be completed efficiently. The final stage, assessment, is vital in that a determination must be made as to the effectiveness of the implemented strategies. Evaluation of the strategies must be ongoing to remain credible. ■


For more information, write to Lieutenant Cosmo Costa at the New Rochelle Police Department, 475 North Avenue, New Rochelle, NY 10801; send an e-mail message to him at (ccosta@ci.new-rochelle.ny.us); or call him at 914-654-2323.   

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From The Police Chief, vol. 72, no. 1, January 2005. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.








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