They’re taking it to the street.
The 62nd Precinct — which covers Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, and Mapleton — officially rolled out its neighborhood policing program at a community meeting at Seth Low Intermediate School 96 in Bensonhurst on April 24. The police inspector who gave attendees an overview of the initiative said it would foster stronger bonds between police officers and community residents, further reducing crime in the relatively safe precinct in the process.
“The police department does great things, but the only way we’re going to progress and do greater things in this city is if we work hand-in-hand with you, the community,” said Fausto Pichardo. “This is a philosophy — neighborhood policing is the way we do business, the way we police in this city going forward. They’re going to get to know you, to know what the concerns are, to hear you out.”
The program, which started in the precinct on April 10, features two neighborhood coordination officers permanently assigned to each of the precinct’s four sectors, where they’ll focus on fighting crime, solving problems, addressing quality-of-life concerns, and developing relationships — in that order, according to Pichardo.
He added that the officers will also host quarterly “Build the Block” meetings for each sector — in addition to the precinct’s monthly community council meetings — where they will work with community members to identify problems and develop strategies to address crime and quality-of-life issues.
Pichardo said that neighborhood coordination officers attend a five-day neighborhood policing training course and a four-day mediation course at the New York Peace Institute in addition to a two-week criminal investigation course as part of their training.
The program will also send two additional officers to the same sector every day for two hours to meet and greet locals while other officers handle 911 calls, Pichardo said.
Pichardo credited the program with last year’s record-low crime rates citywide, including a five-percent reduction in overall crime, 13-percent reduction in murder, and nearly 21-percent reduction in shooting incidents.
Some locals raised concerns at the meeting about the lack of Asian representation — and subsequent potential language barriers — among the neighborhood coordination officers, given the area’s high Asian population, but Pichardo said that some of the officers speak various Chinese dialects, and that all of the officers are equipped with translation apps on their department-supplied phones to use as a last resort.
“If there’s ever an issue where there’s a language barrier, at the very least we can look at our phones,” he said.
Statistics show there is little crime overall in the 62nd Precinct, and that crime in the precinct has dropped by eightpercent over the past two years.
The neighborhood policing program will next debut in the 68th Precinct — encompassing Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights — in July, and should be in all precincts citywide by the end of the year.
The 62nd Precinct Neighborhood Coordination Officers:
Sergeant Emanuel Iskhakov