Jeff Mays | June 25, 2015
INWOOD — Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton will unveil Thursday the community policing plan that the mayor says changed his mind about hiring an additional 1,300 police officers.
Called “One City: Safe and Fair Everywhere,” de Blasio hailed the plan as “true neighborhood policing” during an interview on WCBS 880 Thursday morning.
“You’re gonna see a lot more of cops on the beat, of cops who are part of a neighborhood over a longer period of time- get to know neighborhood leaders, clergy, block association presidents and really understand very, very locally where the problems are, where the bad guys are, where the weapons are,” de Blasio said.
The announcement comes after de Blasio surprisingly agreed to hire 1,300 additional police officers as part of the city’s fiscal year 2016 $78.5 billion budget. Bratton and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito had been pushing for 1,000 new officers.
The announcement shocked de Blasio allies and critics alike because the mayor for month, held firmly to the position that the NYPD had the manpower necessary to initiate the community policing plan which is now in the pilot phase in four precincts.
The mayor cited a decrease in stop and frisk and marijuana arrests and new technology as having freed up officers to spend more time getting to know the communities they serve.
De Blasio said Bratton, after conducting a thorough review of the police departments operations, was able to convince him that the additional officers were necessary.
“He showed me the extent of his analysis and why he saw an opportunity to address crime at the neighborhood level in a different way and also in the process resolve some of the tensions that have existed between police and community in some neighborhoods,” de Blasio said.
The mayor was elected on a platform of improving relations between the NYPD and communities of color and ending discriminatory policing practices.
The mayor says this plan accomplishes that.
‘We needed to take another step in terms of bringing police and community together and deepening the efforts we’ve made and the success we’ve had in driving down crime,” de Blasio said. “This was a way to do it both in terms of the troop strength needed but changing the philosophy, changing the strategy to make it much more neighborhood based.”
Police reform groups have criticized the initiative as an excuse to hire more police officers.
Groups such as Communities United for Police Reform and the Coalition to End Broken Windows say that minority neighborhoods are already over-policed as evidenced by the deaths of people such as Eric Garner and Akai Gurley during interactions with the police.
“These 1,300 new cops are going to have to do something. They are not just going to be walking around the neighborhood shaking hands,” said Alyssa Aguilera, political director for VOCAL-NY.”It’s problematic that a community policing model is being rolled out without buy-in from the community.”