New York Daily News

February 1, 2014


 

Bratton to reform Operation Impact; wants NYPD rookies to start at precincts, not on street in high-crime areas 

Bratton says he will not be doing away with Operation Impact, which under former NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly flooded crime-ridden areas with rookies; but Bratton wants those cops to learn the ropes at precinct commands before getting the tough assignments



BY ROCCO PARASCANDOLA / DAILY NEWS POLICE BUREAU CHIEF

JOE MARINO/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton says he will be reforming Operation Impact, a program begun by former NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly that floods high-crime areas with rookie cops. Bratton wants rookies to get experience at the precinct level before being assigned to the program.

It will still be called Operation Impact, but the experience level of the cops making the impact will be higher.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton spoke to reporters on Friday about his plans to reform Operation Impact, a central program under the leadership of Bratton’s predecessor, Raymond Kelly, in which rookie officers are assigned to patrol crime hotspots across the city.

Bratton won’t be scrapping the program, but instead rookie cops will first be assigned to precincts to gain experience and learn from veterans before they are given more challenging postings through Operation Impact. And Bratton wants to increase the degree of supervision provided to young officers working Operation Impact, meaning that experienced officers will be taking part at a greater ratio than at present, when a single sergeant can be tasked with watching over as many as a dozen rookies working a crime-ridden zone.

“Operation Impact is not going away,” Bratton said. “I would hope to potentially expand it using seasoned officers or these young kids teamed up with a seasoned officer.”

An important reason for Bratton’s desire to alter the program is that he believes rookie cops are better served in their development as officers of the law if they begin their careers working out of a precinct, where seasoned officers can help them learn the ropes.

“What I am really interested in is giving these young men and women a more broadly-based experience, one where they get to interact with the public — not just enforcing most of the time, but helping, responding, spending more time being mentored.”

The city’s new top cop went out of his way to laud Operation Impact as an “extraordinarily good program.” Raymond Kelly, during his 12-year tenure as NYPD Commissioner under former Mayor Bloomberg, often cited Operation Impact as a key reason for the marked decrease in crime.

But Bratton made it clear that an “unintended consequence” of Operation Impact has been that green cops focused too heavily on stopping innocent people for questioning and frisks. The result accentuated the distrust between the police department and the community that was caused by stop, question and frisk — and had to be addressed, Bratton said.

ROBERT SABO/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Police Officers Stephen Resulo and Denis Regimbal on patrol in the Bronx in January 2013.

On Thursday, the administration of Mayor de Blasio withdrew the Bloomberg-era appeal of the federal court decision last year that held the NYPD was applying the stop, question and frisk tactic in unconstitutional fashion with respect to blacks and Latinos. The decision, which recommended a series of reforms, including a federal monitor to oversee changes to stop, question and frisk, is still being appealed by the police unions.

Bratton discussed his plans for Operation Impact shortly after presiding over a promotion ceremony — his first since taking over the nation’s largest police force on Jan. 1. Speaking to an auditorium at Police Plaza full of cops and the loved ones of those being promoted, Bratton said the accolades due the NYPD for the record crime lows it has achieved have been overshadowed by the divisiveness of the stop, question and frisk program.

“So much of the loss of public trust, particularly in minority areas, has come as a result of that practice,” he said.

City cops stopped little more than 3,000 people in January, a far cry from the 50,000-people monthly tallies that were once commonplace under Kelly’s leadership.

Bratton said that when Benjamin Tucker, his new Deputy Commissioner of Training, takes over in a week he will begin collaborating with Chief of Department Philip Banks and Chief of Patrol James Hall to modify Operation Impact, shifting rookie cops to posts on the precinct level.

Bratton’s approach to Operation Impact was applauded by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, and the commissioner said he will be working with the union as the reforms are made.

“This proposal is consistent with the union’s philosophy of training,” PBA President Pat Lynch said.

“It is important to have experienced police officers sharing their knowledge with our newer officers. Using rookies to meet numbered targets under the former system resulted in many of the problems we are now in the process of solving. We prefer to have our members solving problems in our communities and this proposal moves us towards that goal.”

rparascandola@nydailynews.com