Continuing to put his stamp on the NYPD, Commissioner William Bratton said Wednesday he was effectively discontinuing Operation Impact, one of his predecessor's major anti-crime programs that Bratton thinks alienated police from the public and hurt morale.
Operation Impact divided the city into about 20 high-crime hot spots, some of which crossed precinct lines. Former Commissioner Ray Kelly's program placed officers fresh out of the police academy into these zones.
Criminologists have said Kelly used this program and stop-and-frisk to keep crime down following a large exodus of officers after 9/11, when the NYPD ranks dropped from about 41,000 officers to the current 35,000.
While the impact zones may have helped keep crime down, Bratton said the new officers were not adequately supervised, resulting in problems with the use of stop-and-frisk, as well as morale issues.
"The officers we surveyed did not feel good about that program, coming out of the academy and being put directly into those kinds of assignments," Bratton said during a crime briefing Wednesday. He said last month saw the lowest number of shootings, murders and serious crimes since 1994.
Chief of Department James O'Neill said the impact zones will be kept, though they'll be more fluid, with precinct commanders making adjustments rather than NYPD headquarters.
"Nobody knows better where their problems are than the precinct commanders throughout this city," O'Neill said.
Although about 1,200 officers were assigned to Operation Impact last year, a gradual drawdown has taken place and about 600 officers will return to local commands in the next week, O'Neill said.
The phasing out of Operation Impact comes as the NYPD plans to shift more officers to the local precincts, including the new 1,297 officers added to the city budget last month.
"The overall goal is to have precincts much more responsible for their issues and staff them up with officers who aren't flying all over the city, but are assigned to sectors where the public gets to know them, they get to know the public," Bratton said.