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File:NYPD copy 9029.jpg

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"New York City cops
New York City cops
New York City cops

They ain't too smart!"
The Strokes "New York City Cops" (2001)
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Okay, not exactly true. New York's Finest are, in reality, plenty competent, with a few exceptions, most notably their abysmal marksmanship record where more bystanders are shot than suspects. In fiction, however, the NYPD are usually portrayed as gritty dudes more than willing to bend a few rules to get what they want, not particularly interested in the particulars and are crack shots with their pistols despite the ridiculous 15 pound trigger pull.

This is rooted in some historical truth. Throughout the 19th century, parts of New York (most famously the Five Points neighborhood in the Bowery) were damn near lawless. To contend with the territorial packs of criminality, the NYPD (modern policing was still a new idea, believe it or not) learned to function as, in essence, a very organized street gang. But, you know, for justice. Cops began to stake out turf, walking around in groups of three or more, and generally being as intimidating as possible. These practices are now common with law enforcement in every major American city. Nonetheless, broad swaths of New York City remained unpoliceable well into the 1980s.

Until recently, New York City had a number of separate police agencies. Transit Police, Library Police, even the Sanitation Department had their own Garbage Police! These have all been merged into (or back into, in the case of the Transit Police, who originally were part of the NYPD until about 1948) the NYPD.

Another major leap in this trend of localization began in 1994, under Mayor Giuliani. His plan granted more power to individual precincts to make localized decisions, harsh punishment for relatively minor infractions like public urination and graffiti tagging, and what some have claimed amounts to de facto racial profiling. These and other less political factors contributed to a significant drop in criminal activity (at least on paper) and, more recently, to the lowest violent crime rate of any major city in the United States. It also led to an increase in allegations of civil rights abuses and misconduct.

Since September 11th (when the NYPD lost 23 officers), extra equipment has been added to the patrol officer's belt, including a gas mask. Even reality-intensive portrayals of the NYPD may neglect this detail, as it looks completely ridiculous and clumsy—and as told by many cops forced to wear the stuff, it is. In addition, the NYPD now occasionally posts paramilitary troops (complete with body armor and assault rifles) outside major shopping locations, subway and rail stations, and other potential terrorist targets. They also have had undercover officers sent along with the FBI and CIA, thanks to one of the chiefs being ex-CIA and interested in counter-terrorism.

A common accompanying character is the wise-cracking New York cop, perhaps best illustrated by the late Jerry Orbach's Lennie Briscoe in Law & Order.


Examples of New York City Cops include:

The NYPD turns up a lot in fiction set in New York City (indeed, the NYPD even has a dedicated Film Division just to assist in live action works), so we'll just limit ourselves to stuff where they are the stars. Expect many of these to be set in the "12th Precinct", which if it really existed would place the show in Lower Manhattan.

Anime & Manga

  • FAKE: Is about two detectives in the fictional 27th precinct.

Comic Books

  • Witchblade
  • Virtually every single Marvel Comics title. The Red Shirts of the Marvel Universe. The NYPD has such a high casualty rate, it's a wonder that they get any new recruits.
    • One notable exception to this is Code Blue, a sort of SWAT-plus team fielded by the NYPD. They're good enough to handle middling villains from Thor's rogues' gallery, and actually backs up a SHIELD team and Thunderstrike on one occasion.

Film

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"N-Y-P-D means I will kNock Your Punk-ass Down!"

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Literature

Live Action TV

Theatre

  • Detective Story

Video Games

Western Animation

  • The best friend of the Gargoyles, Elisa Maza, is a New York City detective. Her father is a retired cop and her brother was a cop until Xanatos turned him into a Mix-and-Match Man. They, as well as Elisa's conspiracy-obsessed partner Matt Bluestone and her boss Captain Chavez are all recurring characters. They largely don't follow the stereotypes, however.
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