Judy Pal is out. She was the assistant commissioner hired just a few months ago on the recommendation of former Commissioner Bill Bratton to plug neighborhood policing.
Or, as she put it to NYPD Confidential six weeks ago: “I am working through some neighborhood policing projects . . .” with Chief Raymond Spinella, Commissioner James O’Neill’s chief of staff, and John Donahue, chief of strategic initiatives.
Until recently, Pal worked out of O’Neill’s office under Spinella. No longer. She was seen last week in the NYPD’s public information office, which is headed by Phil Walzak, who was press secretary and communications director for Bill de Blasio’s 2013 mayoral bid and helped run his 2017 campaign.
Police sources say they expect Walzak to play the lead role in plugging neighborhood policing.
Why is this relevant? Because neighborhood policing is relevant. As then-Commissioner Ray Kelly did with stop-and-frisk, de Blasio credits neighborhood policing for lower crime.
But just as there was no empirical evidence that stop-and-frisk had anything to do with crime declines under Kelly, there is no evidence that neighborhood policing is bringing lower crime under de Blasio.
Moreover, the policy faces resistance throughout the NYPD. At a recent meeting at the Police Academy, police sources say, top brass were warned by an assistant chief that if they weren’t on board with the program, they should consider retiring. Meanwhile, the NYPD is struggling to get out its neighborhood-policing message. Theoretically, the concept — cops bonding with communities — is a good one.
De Blasio is so enamored of neighborhood policing that last month — with O’Neill off on a 10-day trip to Afghanistan — the mayor held a news conference to announce he was expanding neighborhood policing to the subways. Forget that O’Neill is a former transit cop, or that he would be home just a couple of days later.
As for Pal, Peter Donald, an assistant commissioner for public information, said she had been transferred to the public information office. When asked about rumors she had quit the NYPD, he said he had heard them and would check.
On Monday, he called to say her last day would be May 11.