These cops are back on the beat.
Ridgites and Dyker Heights residents packed the auditorium at Xaverian High School in Bay Ridge on July 31 to learn more about the new neighborhood policing program that debuted in the 68th Precinct on July 16. The police chief who gave attendees an overview of the initiative said it was meant to shift policing priorities from racking up high arrest counts — a cornerstone of the zero-tolerance “broken-windows policing” popularized by former commissioner Bill Bratton in the mid-1990s — towards solving problems within the community.
“We’re not going out and just issuing summons and making arrests — we want these neighborhood coordination officers to mediate the problems that are going on in the neighborhood,” said Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison.
The program assigns two so-called “neighborhood coordination officers” to each of the precinct’s four sectors, where these officers will focus on solving problems, addressing quality-of-life concerns, and developing relationships with locals by attending community meetings, visiting schools, and following up on past incidents, according to the program website. And in addition to the precinct’s monthly community council meetings, the neighborhood coordination officers will host quarterly “Build the Block” meetings in their sectors, where locals can raise concerns about crime and quality-of-life issues.
The 68th Precinct will also receive an additional 24 police officers — including new graduates from the police academy and others who are re-deployed from other commands — as part of the program, bringing its total number of officers in the precinct to 97, Harrison said. And in addition to the two neighborhood coordination officers assigned to each precinct, half of the precinct’s total number of officers will also be assigned to four-person patrols of each sector, split between morning, afternoon, and night shifts.
Harrison said that neighborhood coordination officers attend a four-day neighborhood policing training course, a four-day mediation course at the New York Peace Institute, a one-day public speaking class, and a two-week criminal investigation course as part of their training. The officers also attend biannual training sessions in de-escalating situations and dealing with emotionally disturbed individuals with all officers citywide, Harrison added.
Councilman Justin Brannan (D–Bay Ridge) told attendees at the July 31 event that he believes the program will help strengthen bonds between police officers and community members.
“I think the neighborhood policing program is really tailor made for neighborhoods like ours, where it’s a tight-knit community and everybody looks out for each other,” Brannan said. “I think it’s going to make a real difference, especially when it comes to quality of life crimes and things like that.”
State Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) — a retired police officer — told attendees that he anticipated the program would be a success because locals already prioritize keeping the community safe and registering their complaints with the precinct.
“I will tell you right now these neighborhood coordination officers will be busy, only because you know how to pick up the phone,” Golden said. “This is something that is real, this is something that is going to work.”
Statistics show that there is little crime overall in the 68th Precinct, and that crime in the precinct has dropped by 18 percent over the past two years.
The city first launched the neighborhood policing program in May 2015, and aims to bring it to all precincts citywide by the end of this year. The program rolled out in the nearby 62nd Precinct — encompassing Bath Beach and Bensonhurst — in May.
Sergeant Gerard Iucci