Updated: 11:27 am, Wed Mar 11, 2015

Top Patrol Cops to Get Regular Sector Duties

A 4-Precinct Experiment

By Mark Toor

he NYPD will intensify its community-policing efforts with a pilot program that will have patrol officers take a break from answering 911 calls for a third of their shifts and spend that time talking with community residents and solving problems, police officials told the City Council last week.

The program, which is expected to begin next month at two precincts in upper Manhattan and two in the Rockaways, will divide each precinct into three or four neighborhood sectors.

Steady Sector Work

Officers will be assigned to work steadily in the neighborhood sectors, said Susan A. Herman, Deputy Commissioner for Community Policing.

“There’s a huge advantage in a police officer being assigned to the same geographic location every day and getting to know the life of a neighborhood up close,” she said at a hearing of the Council’s Public Safety Committee.

Rather than chasing the radio, she said, they will spend much of their time “forming the relationships they need and identifying significant conditions.”

The pilot program is part of the department’s effort to improve relationships between police and the communities they serve. That’s been a top priority of Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner William J. Bratton.

But an NYPD survey has found that the communities that suffer the worst crime and therefore need the most intensive policing are still distrustful of cops. And the death of Eric Garner, a petty criminal who succumbed to a heart attack after he was subdued by officers seeking to arrest him for allegedly selling illegal cigarettes, was a serious blow to improved relations.

Virtues of Walking the Beat

“A police officer walking the beat is the most powerful way to communicate a community-oriented approach,” Ms. Herman said.

Assistant Chief Terence Monahan, a top aide to Chief of Department James O’Neill, said the program “gets everyone involved” in community policing. “In the past, there used to be a separate unit that did community policing. It was like two police departments...This is getting everyone on the same team.”

Asked by Public Safety Committee Chair Vanessa L. Gibson who would be assigned to the project, Mr. Monahan said that precinct commanders “will choose their best officers.”

Their efforts will be overseen by a neighborhood coordination officer, who Mr. Monahan said “will be a seasoned veteran” and will receive “the ultimate in training.”