A pilot program that was launched some months back in East Flatbush has been so successful that it is being replicated elsewhere by the NYPD.
The 67th Precinct started the Precinct Offenders Watch List (POWL) program earlier this year to keep track of local residents who have been arrested for gun possession and other crimes, said Captain Jeffrey Schiff, the precinct’s executive officer.
Now, a variant of the program -- which was created by the precinct’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Corey Pegues, and implemented by Schiff and the precinct’s other executive officer, Captain Louis Vierling -- has been “exported to other commands,” Schiff told members of Community Board 17, gathered at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, 395 Lenox Road, for their September meeting.
Why? “So far, it’s a home run,” Schiff told the group.
The program utilizes a database that contains a wealth of information on approximately 245 perpetrators who live within the precinct’s catchment area, he said. Among other things, it “tracks their addresses and court dates, and whether they have been re-arrested or are on parole or probation,” Schiff explained.
A key to the program’s success, so far, he added, is the fact that those who are being watched know that the police are keeping an eye on them.
“We go to their neighborhood,” Schiff explained, “and try to gather intelligence. We try to find out if the person is walking the street now. We also show the perpetrator or past perpetrator that they are on our radar.”
So far, of those who are being watched, there has been only one repeat offender arrested for weapon possession, he added.
“So,” Schiff stressed, “the prevailing feeling is the word is spreading, when we talk to the neighbors, when we talk to the bodega owner down the block, when we talk to the mailman, that these guys are looking for you, and if you are carrying a gun, they are going to know.”
Police officers also keep track of those on the watch list who have gotten jobs or returned to school, to provide support for them, Schiff said. “Officers will approach them and ask how’s your job doing? how’s school going? and encourage them personally on that level.”
The program has also “been successful for us in a number of other ways,” Schiff added.
“Not only are we able to stem the tide from repeat offenders, but we have developed information from the community where are able to get other gun and narcotics information,” he told the group.