Mayor Bill de Blasio teamed up with NYPD Commissioner William Bratton Thursday to roll out their long-awaited "plan of action" to change the way officers do business in an attempt to win the support of minority communities through community policing.
The plan, dubbed "One City: Safe and Fair -- Everywhere," was unwrapped at a news conference at the 34th Precinct in upper Manhattan, located in an area that in the 1990s saw more than 100 homicides a year but in 2014 recorded just one.
De Blasio told a group of reporters, officers, elected officials and community leaders that the essence of the plan, the result of months of study by NYPD officials, was to connect cops to the neighborhoods they serve to "build relationships and deepen trust."
Bratton said the new strategy, which he boiled down to "The Five Ts" -- tackling crime, technology, training, terrorism and trust -- was aimed at making every community in the city "safe and fair for everyone."
The announcement came just days after de Blasio agreed -- after months of resisting the idea -- to add 1,297 new NYPD officers. Bratton said the additional officers are expected to be enrolled in three classes of 400 recruits at the new police academy over the next year.
The nuts and bolts of the community policing plan, a concept tried but abandoned in the 1990s, were spelled out by Chief of Department James O'Neil. Precincts will employ a "steady sector" in which two cops are assigned each day to deeply connect with their communities and not respond to 911 calls or radio emergencies. The NYPD has become heavily specialized over the years and now is the time to "de-specialize" and get cops to connect to the places they police, O'Neil said.
New technology will allow all officers to better access information and link up with people in the community to address local issues, said a police official.
O'Neil noted that a poll of officers done last year found the majority were disillusioned and afraid to do their jobs because of the threat of lawsuits and complaints. Bratton acknowledged that when he took over in 2014 morale was terrible but thought that reforms with the Civilian Complaint Review Board and a tougher attitude toward frivolous lawsuits against officers would help.
Citizens Crime Commission head Richard Aborn hailed the plan as "a historic shift in policy and practice that addresses New York's modern policing challenges in a thoughtful and strategic way."