Tales in Possible
MBA students learned firsthand what it takes to join the New York Police Department as consultants on a Stern Signature Project, sponsored by the Urbanization Project, the Marron Institute and NYPD.
Working full time, going to school and consulting on a project like this is definitely a challenge, but the relationships I’ve built and the piece of history I’ve witnessed are impossible to replace. - MBA student Andrew Matthews
MBA students Caitlyn DeWitt, Simon Lim and Andrew Matthews learned firsthand as project consultants on a Spring 2015 Stern Signature Project (SSP).
Working with Michael Julian, deputy commissioner of personnel for the New York Police Department (NYPD), and Edna Wells Handy, counsel to the police commissioner, the students evaluated ways to improve racial representation within the NYPD through enhancements to their application processes as well as pathways for mentorship.
Examining current recruitment strategies for police officers is one effort in a broader NYPD initiative to improve demographic gaps between the police force and the communities they serve, and to enhance relationships of trust between the police department and communities throughout New York City. “This project presented an opportunity to interact with experts on issues that are so critical and are shaping our society in such important ways,” Andrew said.
Step one for the team, Caitlyn explained, was taking the NYC Police Officer’s Entrance Exam. “The first thing we wanted to do was understand the application and vetting processes from the perspective of a prospective officer. Then, we could really delve into what administrative improvements needed to be made and what role mentors – like [minority fraternal organizations] The Guardians or the Desi Society – could play in the recruitment process.”
With guidance from Professor Paul Romer and Research Scholar Jonathan Stewart at the Marron Institute and NYU Stern’s Urbanization Project, the students produced four key deliverables: a strategic assessment of the NYPD Recruit website and information flow to applicants; a study guide that would assist all applicants preparing for the entrance exam; an analysis of the applicant review process; and a summary of best practices for involving fraternal organizations more formally in recruitment and mentorship activities.
“As our project manager, Jonathan provided us with invaluable insights and connected us with leading experts in the field, but he also gave us room to work with our clients directly and advance our own professional development,” Simon said. “With his guidance, we were able to deliver recommendations that could have a lot of impact for the NYPD and the City.”
Andrew, a sustainability consultant, echoed, “Working full time, going to school and consulting on a project like this is definitely a challenge, but the relationships I’ve built and the piece of history I’ve witnessed are impossible to replace.”
Earlier this summer, the students presented their findings to the Bureau of Personnel, which appreciated both the tactical and strategic solutions the team had developed. Now, their focus moves to next steps – and ways to involve more graduate students in future consulting roles.
“This project was a great introduction to consulting and understanding the complexities that larger, public-sector organizations can face. Throughout our project, we were tasked with developing recommendations for an issue that has no clear-cut solutions, and it was very interesting to see how people with different points of view could strategize toward an end goal,” Caitlyn said.