Officially introduced by Mayor Bill de Blasio last month, the initiatives have already been implemented in the Rockaways’ 100th and 101st precincts, two of four precincts across the city where the plan has been piloted since May.
At Monday’s presentation to community members at Borough Hall, Assistant Chief Terrence Monahan said the plan amounted to more general policing of stricter geographies, as opposed to the current system favoring specialized units patrolling wider territories.
In the 101st precinct, for example, the pilot program has deployed an additional 29 officers, from 83 to 112, to a standard tour.
Under the plan, patrol areas will also be tightened and 30 percent of police officers’ shifts will be dedicated to neighborhood engagement. The plan also calls for the establishment of a new position called Neighborhood Coordinating Officers (NCO), who will be tasked primarily with identifying and managing community concerns. Two NCO’s will be deployed to each sector.
Police officers will also receive new training in skills such as public speaking, web analysis and mediation counseling.
“If our cops are going to be able to go out there and solve problems, it’s important they know who to reach out to in the community,” Monahan said.
Statistics show the program has been successful in another pilot precinct, the 34th in Washington Heights, with crime down in seven categories nearly 14 percent over last year.
The city has not released statistics from the Rockaways, and while Monahan did not offer specifics on Monday, he said that in his opinion the program has proven successful in Queens as well.
“So far it’s been very good,” he said.
Community members appeared on board with the plan on Monday, with the majority of concerns relegated to potential issues the restructuring and new police hires might have on precinct infrastructure.
Community Board 5 chair Vincent Arcuri, Jr. also lodged a question about how police officers could strengthen communications in areas primarily composed of immigrant populations not fluent in English, prompting a demonstration of translation software which Monahan said was installed on all police officers’ phones.
Monahan also said the police department will soon begin piloting another program in the borough called CENTCOM, which he described as an effort to “decentralize” the NYPD by giving borough commanders increased control of where to put policemen and resources. The program will begin within the next couple weeks at Parol Borough Queens South.
The city’s proposed reforms come amidst months of mounting tensions between civilians and police officers nationwide after a string of highly publicized deaths of black men at the hands of white police officers.
In New York City, the shooting deaths of Eric Garner last year and Akai Gurley in November by police officers resulted in protests citywide and calls for reforms within the department.