New York City police officials provided the first in-depth look Tuesday at a new policing strategy they say will put more beat cops in neighborhood precincts to improve the relationship between officers and the communities they serve.
NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said the neighborhood policing plan would use staffing changes and other tactics to restore faith in a department that, in an era of historically low crime, still struggles to boost the morale of its own officers and gain the trust of mostly minority residents in the city’s toughest neighborhoods.
“As important as safety is, it is not enough,” Bratton said to a roomful of clergy at police headquarters. “Safety without public approval isn’t public safety. We want a safer, fairer city everywhere, for everyone.”
Bratton’s comments come a day after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that funding for an additional 1,300 officers had been secured in the budget to supplement the nation’s largest police force of 35,000 uniformed officers.
The neighborhood policing strategy will be based on pilot programs already in place in four high-crime city precincts — two in Queens’ Rockaway peninsula and two in upper Manhattan — in which precinct-based units focusing on complaints about neighborhood conditions were disbanded, freeing up officers to regularly patrol their sectors.
In that model, hand-selected, seasoned officers committed to the neighborhoods they police — dubbed Renaissance cops because they’ll be part detective, community affairs officer and intelligence investigator — will be exempt from chasing 911 calls one third of their time to meet with principals, past victims and others in order to develop rapport and gain community trust.
The approach sharply differs with the ‘stop, question and frisk’ police tactic that, for years, had been employed by officers, disproportionately affecting black and Hispanic men.