July 8, 2014

PBA: Moving ‘Inside’ Cops to Street Shows How Short NYPD Is


See also article Mayor: Shooting Spike Unrelated to Reduction in Stop-and-Frisks; Predicts Infusion of 1,200 Cops to Trouble Spots Will Fix Problem

PATRICK J. LYNCH: ‘A last-ditch, Band-Aid response.’  

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association slammed a decision by the NYPD to move as many as 400 desk-bound officers to patrol precincts and housing projects to address crime spikes as proof that the department does not have enough cops.

The Summer All Out program “is a clear and unambiguous admission that the NYPD does not have enough police officers on patrol to curb gun violence, control crime and keep the city safe,” PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said July 30. “It is a last-ditch, Band-Aid response to the escalating gun violence and disorder in this city. 

‘Need to Hire More’

“City Hall has ignored the dramatically-diminished staffing in the NYPD for well over a decade and now this administration is left to fix the problem. Hiring more police officers is critical to addressing this problem and it must begin immediately.”

The program, outlined in an internal memo from Police Commissioner William J. Bratton, was first reported by the New York Times, which said it had obtained the document “from a person who is skeptical of the strategy.”

The officers would come from units including Personnel, Recruitment, the Medical and Training divisions, and the Internal Affairs, Community Affairs, Criminal Justice, Counterterrorism and Intelligence bureaus. They would be assigned to patrol for 90 days.

Police spokesman Stephen Davis said, “This program is still in the process of being assessed as to the actual number of personnel to be temporarily assigned and the units from which they will be reassigned, as well as the areas where they may be deployed.

‘Review Patrol Resources’

“This personnel reassignment plan is part of a broader review of patrol resource allocation during the next 90-day period,” he continued. “Based on this review, the actual number of personnel to be included in the Summer All Out program may be adjusted.”

Eugene O’Donnell, a former prosecutor and police officer who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said he agrees with the PBA.

“Patrol is running on empty,” he said, adding that some precincts have six or eight cops, or even fewer, on some shifts.

But, he said, “I have my doubts that they could get 400 people now on desk duty.” If they could, he added, “400 cops is inconsequential” when spread out across dozens of precincts and housing units over three shifts, seven days a week.

The impact of these officers would be further diluted, he said, because most of policing is not fighting violent crime but providing services such as dealing with noise complaints, domestic violence, missing children and auto accidents.

‘A Young Person’s Job’

“Street policing is a young person’s job,” he said, noting that officers who work at desks are older ones who don’t want to be on patrol, and would be expected to pursue alternative assignments, or even retire, rather than return to the street.

“They’ve done ‘all outs’ in the past, a day or two a week, or a day or two a month,” Roy T. Richter, president of the Captains’ Endowment Association, told the Times. “But nothing to this extent in my memory, and that goes back at least 20 years.”

This year’s Summer All Out program is a response to spikes in crime, particularly in housing projects. On a citywide basis, murders and major crimes other than rape, grand larceny and auto theft were down from Jan. 1 to June 22 over the same period in 2013, but shootings were up.

Too Early for Alarms

Experts in crime statistics caution that figures over relatively short periods should not be interpreted as indicating a trend. Mr. Bratton has said such spikes are temporary and to be expected as summer progresses.

He and Mayor de Blasio rejected a proposal from the City Council to add 1,000 more cops, saying they could meet the city’s needs with the current 34,500 officers, whose efforts are supplemented by a generous overtime budget.