New Counterterror Team, Community Strategy at NYPD

NEW YORK (AP) -

More officers will be dedicated to engaging with the community instead of solely responding to radio calls, and 350 officers will be specially trained and outfitted to respond to counterterrorism, Police Commissioner William Bratton said Thursday.

Previously, precinct officers were assigned to what is called a “critical response” — a show of force at sensitive locations like the Empire State Building or the Brooklyn Bridge. But now those officers will become a specialized unit and will receive special training and weapons, Bratton said.

The officers will also benefit from a move to get 6,000 new tablets into police cars, and smartphones for every officer, making communication easier.

“It’s a win-win,” he said after a speech to the nonprofit Police Foundation, which helps fund department initiatives.

Police will also change how they patrol the streets as part of an effort to build better relationships with the community. The idea is to create space for officers to engage with businesses and residents in ways they are unable to now because they are too busy responding to emergency calls, Bratton said. The specifics of both initiatives, including funding, are being worked out and Bratton said they would be put in place in coming months.

“Our most needy communities aren’t happy with our service,” Bratton said. “That needs to change.”