The Police and The People: A Unity of Effort

March 14, 2014 Updated: April 24, 2016

A police department is most effective when dedicated to properly upholding community policing, which promotes a unity of effort between the police and the people. This collaboration is critical to New York City and to communities across the globe.

William J. Bratton returned to New York City as police commissioner on Jan. 1. During remarks at a Dec. 5 press conference, he stressed bringing the police and community together. “I will work very hard and very quickly to bring legitimacy and trust between the citizens and the police department,” he said.

The commissioner highlighted his goals: 

  • Maintaining low crime rates
  • Preventing terrorism
  • Bringing the NYPD and its 50,000 members and 8.5 million New Yorkers together with mutual trust and respect.

He also emphasized public safety—with focus on safe streets, safe subways, and traffic safety—as the foundation of democracy. He stated that the police will serve constitutionally, respectfully, and compassionately.

Bratton showed a children’s book titled “Your Police” that he has cherished since he was a 9-year-old boy. He read its final words: “We must always remember that whenever you see a policeman he is your friend. He is there to protect you. He has dedicated his life to the preservation of the laws, properties, civil rights and people he serves. He would not hesitate to save your life at the cost of his own.”

Bratton concluded with a thought from Sir Robert Peel, the father of modern policing, who wrote ethical mandates in 1829 in his Nine Principles of Policing. Bratton stressed two of those principles: “The basic mission for which police exist is to prevent crime and disorder. The prevention of crime should be accomplished without intruding unnecessarily into the lives of citizens.” Bratton held the Nine Principles in his hand and he stated it as his philosophy for policing throughout his career.

These principles are critical for enhancing a unity of effort between the police and the people not only in New York but also in cities across the globe:

Sir Robert Peel’s Nine Principles

  1. The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.
  2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.
  3. Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.
  4. The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.
  5. Police seek and preserve public favor not by catering to public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.
  6. Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient.
  7. Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
  8. Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.
  9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.
Vincent J. Bove
Vincent J. Bove

Vincent J. Bove, CPP, is a national speaker and author on issues critical to America. Bove is a recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for combating crime and violence and is a former confidant of the New York Yankees. His newest book is “Listen To Their Cries.” For more information, see