In the two years since the program’s inception, major index crimes have fallen and community-police relations have improved, but there’s still work to be done.
One area in particular has seen a stark difference. In Rockaway’s 101st Precinct, areas like Arverne View that had been plagued by violence are breaking their own records for days without a shooting.
Rockaway has also had the benefit of strong anti-violence programs like Rock Safe Streets, but neighborhood policing is all part of that. It asks officers to work with these organizations to be part of the solution, not just an arresting agency.
It’s also important that the community sees the police as their peers and not authority in a uniform. That can be accomplished by assigning officers to small sectors, so instead of just seeing a rotating cast of officers in blue, members of the community will actually get to know the person keeping them safe.
It will be the officer they had a coffee with at their local bodega or sat next to in a park on a shady day that comes when they need help. The relationship needs to be a two-way street and that’s on the community as well.
Neighborhood policing will particularly have a positive impact on young children. Part of the program has the neighborhood coordination officers visiting schools on a more casual basis. It will show kids that the cops don’t just come when something bad happens, and instead are regular members of the community.
It’s been three years since the death of Eric Garner in New York City and major police reforms were promised and are starting to be implemented. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but now it feels like the city is making real progress that will hopefully lead to a safer community for both residents and officers.