NYPD'S APPL PROGRAM: A NEW
Anthony M. Voelker
Chief of Organized Crime Control
New York City Police Department
"A man claiming to represent a reputable delivery service
appeared at the office of a theater service group and asked
to collect COD charges for a package addressed to a
well-known actress. The organization's alert security
supervisor told the man to come back later for payment, and
when he returned, the police arrested him for perpetrating
a delivery scam. (The package contained only an empty
box.) The Special Frauds Squad of the New York Police
Department (NYPD) had received 20 complaints of these
COD cases, with losses averaging from $100 to $500."
"A security guard observed a scam in progress. The victim
was shown an envelope containing individually wrapped
coins. A physician's name, phone number, and address were
on the envelope. The victim was asked to call the
"doctor," who said there was a reward for the coins. The
coins were sold to the victim, who soon discovered that
they were worthless. The security guard observing this
scam called local detectives, who arrested the suspect.
The team had operated in midtown for about 18 months. This
systematic, ongoing conduct amounted to a "scheme to
defraud," and a felony charge and conviction followed."
"In 1985, women were being attacked in elevators and
staircases of office buildings. In just over a month, the
suspect raped and robbed nine women. The case generated
intense media coverage, and as the police attempted to
identify the suspect, a former NYPD detective, employed as
a security agent for a large corporation, realized that the
assailant's modus operandi fit that of a rapist he had
previously arrested. Local detectives pulled the case file
to show the suspect's picture to the victims, and the
`midtown rapist' was positively identified and arrested."
The common denominator in these incidents was the quick,
professional action taken by private security personnel who had
systems in place to notify local police when they observed
unusual activity. Were it not for their quick actions, these
cases would probably remain unsolved.
AN UNTAPPED RESOURCE IS RECOGNIZED
In the past decade, both law enforcement and private
security professionals have arrived at the same conclusion: The
police cannot provide all the protection and enforcement
necessary to maintain safe and orderly communities. There are
increasingly fewer police resources to handle an ever-increasing
demand for services. For example, in New York City in 1989,
there were 8.3 million calls to the emergency 911 number. The
Hallcrest Report, (1) which gives the results of a 30-month
research project on the respective roles of private security and
public law enforcement, highlighted a growing phenomenon: While
the private security sector is continually growing in size,
public law enforcement remains stable, at best, and in some
areas, is being reduced. The report estimated that in 1990,
private security expenditures will reach $22 billion (a figure
recently revised to $26 billion) and will involve almost 700,000
guards, investigators, and other private security employees. By
comparison, outlays for local, State, and Federal law
enforcement will be under $14 billion, with approximately
600,000 personnel. These facts underscore the tremendous
importance of a stronger alliance between the New York City
Police Department (NYPD) and the private security community.
There have been many long-standing informal relationships
between public law enforcement officers and private security
officers, often only on an investigation or incident basis.
However, only recently have department officials tapped this
THE APPL PROGRAM
In November 1985, the NYPD commissioner met with four
former NYPD chiefs, who had become leaders in the private
security community, to discuss ways of increasing the extent of
collaboration between the groups. The end result was the
Police-Private Security Liaison Committee. This committee, in
turn, formed the Area Police-Private Security Liaison Program
(APPL). Because APPL operated in Manhattan's central business
district, the initial operation was aptly named "Midtown APPL."
The lifeblood of the Midtown APPL program is the close
working relationship between local police officers and private
security personnel. The police keep security directors informed
about local crime trends and patterns, wanted persons, and lost
or stolen property. This information, often initially received
from the private security sector, is then passed on by the
security directors to their corporate networks. In return,
private security directors inform the police of internal crimes,
share their knowledge of plant/personnel protection, and advise
the police of other relevant on-site observations.
The APPL program encourages personal contact, at each level
of the chain of command, between the police and private security.
Police commanders and security directors meet monthly on a formal
basis, and more frequently on an informal basis, to discuss
mutual concerns. In addition, police supervisors and officers
interact on a daily basis with security supervisors and guards.
By doing this, each gains a better understanding of the others'
roles, functions, problems, and goals.
In addition to the monthly meetings, quarterly regional
meetings are held on a division level (combining several
precincts) between managers in both public and private security.
These meetings give managers an opportunity to discuss current
situations and share their expertise. Presentations by guest
speakers are made at these quarterly meetings on topics such as
drugs in the workplace, sexual harassment, emergency medical
responses, and how to deal with suspicious packages and devices.
Virtually anything that will enhance performance is deemed an
appropriate subject for lectures and discussions.
BRIDGING THE GAP
Deep-rooted negative feelings can hinder a successful
merger between police and private security. For years, police
officers viewed private security officers as little more than
uneducated, ill-trained guards assigned to watch buildings and
construction sites. Private security officers, in turn,
rejected police authority because they resented being treated as
less than professional law enforcement officers. To bridge this
credibility gap, the APPL program began as an effort to inform
the police community about the key role that private security
plays in our society and the level of professionalism to which
this industry and its members have risen.
To illustrate, NYPD Police Academy administrators revised
its training curriculum to include a private security awareness
discussion for incoming recruits. Police officers, supervisors,
and middle managers received the same information through
regular inservice training, pre-promotion training, and
workshops. In addition, as part of the executive development
program (for the rank of captain and above), the department
arranged for panel discussions with high-level private security
executives who retired from the department at the chief level.
With the same objectives in mind--improved understanding
and respect--groups of police officers and supervisors on patrol
have been invited to visit private security organizations. They
meet with security directors and managers to discuss common
street occurrences and problems and to get a close-up view of
security facilities, technology, and internal procedures.
In yet another effort to maintain open lines of
communication, the department published a registry of private
security organizations to provide members of both police and
security units with the means for direct contact. This allowed
members of the department and private security to exchange
information, locate experts, or give details of incidents
observed that would help APPL members perform their duties more
effectively. This registry also serves as a mailing list to
disseminate information bulletins and wanted posters to APPL
members on a regular basis. These bulletins and posters contain
suspect descriptions, sketches or photos of wanted persons or
property, and details of methods being employed by local
criminals. Many of these posters and bulletins have led to the
arrest of locally active criminals, including the three cited in
the beginning of this article.
The APPL program also includes a course taught by
instructors at the police academy that is specially designed to
meet the needs of private security first-line supervisors. The
1-day course features basic police science and social science
subjects, as well as a description of the legal responsibilities
of private security. When they complete the course, the private
security supervisors share the information with their
subordinates. In the last 3 years, more than 450 security
supervisors have attended the class, and all have attested to
the usefulness of the training when they make security
EXPANSION OF APPL
When the APPL program was first implemented, it was limited
to the central business district in Manhattan. The initial
Midtown APPL program has since grown from a dedicated group of
30 private security associations in three patrol precincts to
four programs located throughout the city. The program now
includes more than 350 private security organizations that
employ over 12,000 security personnel in more than 500
buildings. Current plans are to establish an APPL program in
every part of the city that has private security organizations.
Until that time, each precinct commander is encouraged to
establish working relationships with private security personnel
working within their areas.
APPL'S KEY INGREDIENTS
After 4 years, considerable progress has been made in
bridging the credibility and trust gap between public and
private policing and in encouraging a spirit of cooperation.
This could not, however, have been accomplished if it were not
for a blending of key ingredients.
First, the enthusiastic support of department officials and
influential members of the private security community provided a
substantial foundation upon which to build this program. The
constant attention, direction, commitment, and unfailing
involvement of these two factions set a positive tone and
encouraged both action and change.
Second, the face-to-face contact between police and
security personnel forced initial dialogue, and formalized
networking resulted in a recognition of each other's problems
and needs. With accurate information came better understanding,
which led to more productive relationships.
Finally, there is the requirement that police managers
submit regular reports to the commissioner on their involvement
with the private security sector. These reports include current
cooperative efforts and the results of new initiatives that
encourage police commanders to interact with private security.
There is no question that the public benefits when an
alliance is forged between public law enforcement and private
security agencies. Initial feedback strongly suggests that the
APPL program has the NYPD moving in the right direction.
Distrust seems to be waning, and acceptance of private
security's place in law enforcement appears improved. The
efforts of APPL participants have borne the fruits of improved
understanding and greater tolerance of each other's roles and
needs within the scope of the law.
(1) William C. Cunningham and Todd H. Taylor, Private Security
and Police in America: The Hallcrest Report (Chancellor Press: