NEW YORK (AP) — The New York City Police Department unveiled a new policing strategy Thursday meant to keep crime low while also improving the at-times strained relationship between officers and the communities they serve.
The program, dubbed "One City: Safe and Fair Everywhere," is being launched after an 18-month department review by Police Commissioner William Bratton. He declared the plan will give New Yorkers "a more intimate" relationship with police officers by fixing cops in particular neighborhoods, allowing them to get to know local residents.
Some officers will now patrol the same beat day after day, building a rapport with residents who would soon become familiar faces. Those officers will also be freed up from chasing 911 calls so they can instead build trust, something that Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio believe will improve locals' opinions of officers, which in turn could lead them to be cooperative with investigations.
"(Residents) will see the same officer day in and day out, the same officer in the same beat and the same sector," said de Blasio, who announced the plan at an Upper Manhattan community center. "That's going to create a deeper kind of trust."
The neighborhood policing 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 and building distrust of police in communities of color. In 2011, there were 685,000 stops. So far this year there have been more than 7,000 stops, according to NYPD statistics.
The program will be helped partly by the 1,300 new police officers allocated in the budget deal, which is expected to be voted by the City Council on Friday. Those officers will come on the job in a series of four smaller academy classes, a switch from previous plans of one or two larger classes, in an effort to get them on the force faster. Additionally, police officials spoke of a desire to stress less specialization from its officers and make their cops "more generalized."
The changes come at a precarious political moment for de Blasio, who initially balked at hiring any more officers but relented after a push by Bratton. Though overall crime is down, the numbers of murders and shootings have increased this year, leading some critics to question the mayor's decision to curb stop-and-frisk.
Meanwhile, some of his usual allies on the left are upset with the decision to hire more officers and plan to protest the vote Friday.