Wall Street Journal
May 2, 2014

 

Hundreds of Police Return to Beat Patrols

NYPD Floods Streets to Combat Summer Crime and an Increase in Shootings; Officers Reassigned to Dangerous Areas

Hundreds of police officers working desk jobs — including some who haven't walked a beat in years — are being reassigned to high-crime neighborhoods to curb a recent spate of shootings, Police Commissioner William Bratton said Monday.

Called "Operation All Out," the initiative will redeploy 313 officers to foot patrols with a badge and police-issue firearm in Brooklyn and the Bronx.

An NYPD spokeswoman said the transfers began Monday.

The officers were chosen from at least 30 sections or divisions of the New York Police Department during a review of where resources are allocated, said Chief of Patrol James O'Neill.

He said the officers were pulled from areas such as the Personnel Bureau, Applicant Processing Division, Medical Division, Support Services Bureau and Fleet Services Division.

They will attend a two-day refresher course, which includes a day at the police academy and a second day of tactical training, before the 90-day reassignment, a law-enforcement official said.

They will work out of one of 10 precincts and five Police Service Area commands, which cover public housing developments.

"They'll have a gun, they'll have a shield, they'll remember how to do it," said Mr. O'Neill, who was directed by Mr. Bratton to find additional NYPD resources.

One of the precincts that will get the officers is the 47th in the Bronx, which roughly covers the Woodlawn, Wakefield and Williamsbridge neighborhoods

That precinct has seen 10 murders in the past six months, the NYPD said. Year to date, the number of shooting victims rose 143%, from 14 victims in 2013 to 43 in 2014, NYPD statistics show.

The 47th precinct will receive 40 additional officers. So will the 69th precinct in Canarsie, which has seen a 250% rise in shooting incidents so far in 2014 when compared with the same time frame in 2013.

The officers will also be assigned to other Bronx precincts, the northern portion of Crown Heights and the Ocean Hill-Brownsville area, both in Brooklyn, and the 113th precinct covering the southeastern part of Jamaica, Queens.

The remaining precincts and PSAs will each be given an additional 15 to 20 officers, Mr. O'Neill said.

While overall crime across the city's seven major crime categories is down 3.3% in 2014, shootings have increased, Mr. Bratton said.

As of Monday, there have been 562 shooting incidents in the first six months of this year compared with 514 for the same period last year, according to figures released by the NYPD.

Homicides are down. At this point in 2013, there were 169 homicides. So far this year there have been 153, Mr. Bratton said.

Mr. Bratton said he thought 2014 will end with fewer than 300 homicides. There were 335 homicides in 2013, NYPD statistics show.

In addition to the 313 redeployed officers, the NYPD is also increasing the number of officers attached to a separate task force, known as Operation Impact, Mr. Bratton said.

That initiative, which saturates high-crime neighborhoods with uniformed officers, will get an extra 30 officers. That means the program will deploy 160 officers each day.

Combined with the 313 officers attached to the summer operation, and 600 police academy graduates, Mr. Bratton said the community would see "well over 1,000 additional officers" on the streets during the summer.

The NYPD's current head count stands at 35,437 officers. Mr. Bratton said he was satisfied with that figure, but if Operation All Out didn't have the desired effect he would consider asking the city to fund more officers.

The president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch, has been critical of the reassignment initiative, saying it ignores a key problem of low staff levels.

"Hiring more police officers is critical to addressing this problem and it must begin immediately," Mr. Lynch said.

John Jay College professor Eugene O'Donnell, a former NYPD officer and prosecutor, agreed with Mr. Lynch's call to hire more officers.

Shifting officers from hard-earned assignments to patrol duty might not sit well for many.

"It's perceived as a punishment to be uprooted from an assignment you've earned and dumped back on patrol," he said.