Could the city use another 1,000 police officers? Sure, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton told the City Council this week. So should Bratton lean in hard to persuade the mayor to put more badges on the streets? No way, he responded.
He’s right both times. This isn’t the moment to sound the trumpet for reinforcements. Despite a recent uptick in revenues, municipal coffers aren’t exactly bulging. And Mayor Bill de Blasio — who cites a structural deficit — has an endless line of union contracts yet to settle.
Then there’s his ambitious social agenda — the one that envisions reliable shelter for the city’s 52,000 homeless people and a New York City Housing Authority that can somehow get all of its 180,000 units into acceptable shape.
Those achievements won’t come cheap.
And while there’s every reason to worry about specific rises in crime, there’s no cause for panic.
The city’s overall crime rate in fact is down from this time a year ago — despite a shocking 32 percent jump in shootings within public housing complexes and a troubling resurgence in heroin trafficking in some neighborhoods.
So given the city’s pressing choices, Bratton’s task is to solve the crime problems with the force he has — which today numbers more than 35,000 officers.
Job One? He could start by ratcheting up police stops in and around public housing. He has always favored the use of stop-and-frisk procedures — while saying they must be done legally. Now is his chance to make this happen in New York — on the streets and in public housing — with cops who adhere to the Constitution and to the commonly accepted rules of human respect.
The one thing Bratton can’t do?
He cannot cut corners when it comes to oversight and training for police work in public housing complexes. Highly skilled cops will be the difference between success and failure should Bratton ratchet up stop-and-frisk.
Bottom line: The NYPD must effectively enforce the law without making residents feel like suspects. The prior regime failed to do that. We hope Bratton succeeds.