NYPD Commissioner William Bratton, bringing his own brand of policing to the city, said Tuesday he plans to ride the subways early in the morning to get a sense of the city and will start equipping cops with handheld devices to fight crime.
Bratton, speaking for nearly an hour at the nonprofit New York City Police Foundation breakfast at the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan, said he plans to make his straphanger forays along with criminologist George Kelling, who will work with the department on quality-of-life issues in the subways and parks.
"I think there will be a lot of surprised cops when they see George and I pop out of the subways at 3:30 in the morning," Bratton quipped.
A department spokesman said there was no definite schedule for Bratton's trips underground, something he did in the 1990s as head of New York's transit police. Bratton will likely have a security officer tag along, said NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis.
Bratton said he and Kelling, who has popularized the "broken window" theory of policing that advocates fixing quality-of-life issues before they lead to crime, will be on the lookout for homeless people.
"George and I are going to go out, kind of like old times for us riding the rails, getting a sense as to [whether] the shelter-resistant population attempted to come back into those [subway] areas," said Bratton.
Asked by reporters if he had seen a resurgence of the once-ubiquitous squeegee men who harassed drivers, Bratton said he has only seen two in the past four years.
He stressed that homicides are down nearly 20 percent this year from last year's historic low of 334.
The NYPD also plans to introduce a pilot program in the next three months equipping some cops with Microsoft handheld tablets linked to the department's high-tech Domain Awareness System. The massive information-gathering system, which uses surveillance cameras, license-plate readers and radiation detectors to help track targets throughout the city, will allow cops to use the tablets to access that surveillance data, plus crime reports and other intelligence, said Bratton.
"This is the future of the New York City Police Department," Bratton said.
Jessica Tisch, the NYPD's deputy commissioner for information technology, said the application on the devices is a modified version of officers' desktop computers.
Bratton also said the NYPD will be collaborating with metropolitan-area police in Los Angeles and London to develop anti-crime strategies and policing tactics.
One topic with Los Angeles cops is predictive policing -- using algorithms to help forecast property crimes, a tactic gaining traction with some police organizations.
With John Valenti