With the recent protests that have gripped the nation, the time is ripe for an overhaul of the system, and the city’s recently-released One City plan, which hones in on civic engagement, is what we need.
Introduced last June, the plan fosters community engagement by putting police officers in smaller patrol geographies and allowing them time to engage in these communities. Under the plan, about 30 percent of a police officer’s shift will now be dedicated to community engagement.
The plan also establishes a new position, Neighborhood Coordinating Officers (NCO), tasked primarily with identifying and addressing community concerns.
In becoming more familiar with the areas they patrol and forging relationships within those neighborhoods, police officers will not only begin repairing strained ties, but will be able to do their jobs more successfully.
The plan allows officers to better understand the unique challenges inherent to each of our city’s neighborhoods, and will arm them with important connections that will foster their work down the line.
Thus far, the program looks to be working. In a Washington Heights precinct where the program has been piloted since May, crime is down in seven categories nearly 14 percent compared to last year.
If our country has seen far too many images of police brutality in recent months, it’s important to remember the heroism and compassion that the vast majority of officers demonstrate on a daily basis.
Police officers join the force to better our communities, not to be at odds with them, and it’s important we have policies in place that demonstrate that.