The NYPD is starting a community greeter program, as a way to make visits to the precinct more successful for those who need services. The position, which many new greeters started on Monday, is called Community Guide, and is meant to deepen the relationship between each precinct and its community. The mayor announced it in his daily press conference on Sept. 30.
“We get complaints about individuals walking to present which can be very intimidating in nature to begin with, and not being greeted in a timely fashion, in a courteous fashion,” said Juanita Holmes, Chief of Patrol.
That position is now the point of contact for anyone who needs help, from Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4 pm.
“This position is proof of the NYPD striving for excellence in the area of customer service,” Holmes said.
One Bronx woman and her sister are community greeters who have previously worked in their precinct. “During my initial time working at NYPD, I started as a custodial assistant working at the 25th precinct. During COVID it wasn’t easy, but with the help of my peers I was able to take on disposition, and learn my way around pretty quickly,” said Rebecca Smith, who started this new position on Monday.
She forwarded the application to her mother and sister, who both applied and started training at the police academy.
“I was fortunate enough to stay at my current precinct. A place I had gotten to know so well,” Smith said.
Smith said that being around officers in uniform can be intimidating for community members, so she acts as someone who can relate to the everyday community member, a friendly face.
“My mother taught my sister and I to be courageous, respectful, and the importance of kindness. I’m excited to start my new role,” Smith continued.
According to a press release from the NYPD, the job will also include helping visitors with the documentation needed, helping obtain accident reports, and escorting them to other parts of the office.
“These well-trained Community Guides will improve our customer service and deepen our relationships with community members,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said in the press release.
Throughout October, even more Community Guides were onboarded, for a total of 180. The relationship between the NYPD and the community it serves is complicated and strained.
Jennifer Jones Austin, director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, spoke at the mayor’s press conference about feedback she has heard from families about their relationship with police.
“What we repeatedly heard in the communities where people felt challenged in their relationships with the police, was that they wanted to be seen as individuals, and human beings, as having needs,” Austin said.
She added that they didn’t want to be seen as victimizers when they are the ones who need help.
Austin said that the Community Guides will make a difference in adding compassion to the process.