In August 2013, a federal judge ruled that the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) Stop, Question, and Frisk (SQF) policy was unconstitutional on the basis of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. As part of the court settlement, the judge appointed a federal monitor to oversee a series of reforms to the department, including the introduction of Body Worn Cameras (BWCs) in police precincts across the city. The monitor is working closely with independent researchers to conduct a mixed-methods, randomized controlled evaluation of the BWCs. As part of that evaluation, CUNY ISLG is conducting in-person surveys of NYC residents across the five boroughs to ensure that the perspectives and experiences of populations most affected by SQF—particularly young men of color—are adequately represented in the evaluation. Specifically, the surveys address perceptions of public safety and law enforcement, and recent interactions with law enforcement.

To date, ISLG has conducted two waves of survey data collection, with each wave consisting of more than one thousand surveys. ISLG collected baseline data in 2017 (report here), and in late 2018 ISLG completed the first year of follow-up data collection post-BWC rollout. To collect the data, ISLG employs a community-based approach, partnering with the CUNY Office of Academic Affairs to recruit and train more than 85 CUNY students to administer the surveys, often in the same neighborhoods where they reside, work, and attend classes. Prior to field work, each student attends a three-hour training covering research ethics and the framework and methods for this specific project. Students then work in pairs to conduct the surveys in assigned areas within the BWC evaluation precincts.

This approach has proven effective for both rounds of data collection to date. Both the baseline and follow-up samples are representative of the precincts themselves, including having adequate representation of the populations most likely to be affected by SQF. In addition, the project has provided students with valuable research experience, which many seek to continue in future studies.

ISLG and the CUNY Office of Academic Affairs plan to continue this relationship to support this and other projects in future years. ISLG also teaches a graduate course on public policy approximately once annually, and hosts interns from CUNY and other universities on a rolling basis.

Contact Neal Palmer (neal.palmer@islg.cuny.edu) for more information.