In a move aimed at bringing street cops closer to the people they serve, the NYPD on Tuesday formally kicked off a series of small community meetings around the city as a crucial part of the neighborhood policing strategy.
Some 166 neighborhood summits will take place in the five boroughs to give neighborhood coordination officers, otherwise known as NCOs, an opportunity to meet residents of their small precinct sectors to build relationships and get feedback in the effort to solve crime and problems.
“These are meetings at which residents, workers and visitors that make up those small areas, meet and bond with specific police officers who are safeguarding the streets,” said NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill at a Bronx news conference Tuesday to announce the initiative.
The setting for the media announcement was the Mullaly Recreation Center, in city parkland adjacent to the new Yankee Stadium on Jerome Avenue. The location is in the 44th Precinct, where O’Neill was once a precinct commander.
O’Neill is the chief architect of the neighborhood policing strategy that began in late 2015 and has now spread to 52 of the city’s 77 precincts, as well as all public housing areas. O’Neill is staking a great deal on the program, which he believes will build bridges between cops and communities and repair relationships frayed in recent years, while continuing to decrease crime. Each precinct is divided into sectors with two NCOs for each sector.
Only the NCOs and the public will participate in the meetings, with no supervisors or other higher ups involved, O’Neill said. Members of the public can use a new website, BuildTheBlock.nyc, to find meeting locations for their areas. O’Neill also announced a $1 million advertising campaign, paid for by the nonprofit New York City Police Foundation, will run spots on television, radio and digital sites to promote the program.
“It is a huge step forward, your police officers are running these meetings, not inspectors, not the captains, not the lieutenants, not the sergeants,” stressed O’Neill. He also said the program aims to show cops that they are trusted.
“Our cops need to know we trust them to get to know the people they serve,” O’Neill said.
“This next step, these neighborhood safety summits are going to allow New Yorkers to engage further with their NCOs, to really allow the officers to troubleshoot and navigate the process,” said City Council member Vanessa Gibson (D-Bronx).
Chief of Patrol Terence Monahan said the meetings actually started last week and would continue through the end of July.
“This is not a one time deal,” Monahan said. “This is the first wave of meetings and they will be consistently updating in each sector so we are hoping to do at least quarterly, if not more, in every sector.”