Bratton on plans for ‘new patrol model’
New York City police commissioner Bill Bratton unveiled a sweeping new plan to redeploy officers in order to boost police-community relations, while also increasing the city’s counterterrorism efforts.
At a breakfast hosted by the Police Foundation at the Mandarin Oriental, Bratton announced 350 officers will be permanently assigned to rove throughout the city, with rifles and machine guns, in anticipation of possible terrorist attacks. These officers will also be used to assist on crime scenes, and help with crowd control and other large-scale events.
Previously, some of this work was done by officers assigned to local precincts throughout the city. Now, those officers will be able to stay in their regularly assigned precincts, enabling them to work in a more focused way on their beats, Bratton said.
Also, officers assigned to local precincts will see their work re-prioritized.
Bratton called it a “new patrol model for how we deploy resources.”
Though crime is down citywide, there are pockets where it is still a problem. Bratton said as many as half the officers working in local precincts have a “specialty role,” and are not in cars patrolling their sectors—subsections of a precinct.
The other half of patrol officers are often going from “call to call to call," Bratton said.
"They never have a chance to really have time to build relationships, to work on the problems in these distressed neighborhoods," he said. "They’re indentured to the radio, running from call to call, in a department that does not have enough police officers often times and not enough cars out there to handle all the calls as they continue to come in."
Under a plan created by chief of department James O’Neill, the NYPD will cut the number of officers assigned to specialty roles, and increase the number of officers on patrol in local precincts.
“We’ll assign them to steady sectors," Bratton said. "Having more patrol officers and sector cars lessens the tyranny of the radio and allows time for new, creative types of police work.”
The plan will start in two precincts in Manhattan and two in Queens, Bratton told reporters. He said this pilot program is similar to one he began rolling out when he was an officer working in Boston in the 1970s. It was so successful in his precinct, he was promoted within the Boston department to expand the program citywide. It never happened though, because Boston ended up laying off officers before Bratton’s plan could be implemented. Bratton also said there is a similar program used in the Los Angeles Police Department, which he led for seven years in the 2000s.
“For years we’ve been asking our officers to engage in the community, but we’ve never given them time to do it, or the training,” Bratton said.
Under the new plan, officers will be able to more easily follow up on past crimes, meet with community members, and build relationships with local residents.
“Cops will know their sectors and the citizens will know them. They’ll know the problem areas and the problem people. I truly believe when cops embrace their neighborhoods, their neighborhoods will embrace them back,” Bratton said during his speech.
After the speech, Bratton told reporters the redeployment of officers from specialty details to patrol assignments is a return to community policing.
“I think everybody will like the idea—City Council, it’s something the mayor’s been very supportive of, in our discussions with him,” Bratton said.
He added, “This is a way that we can, in fact, keep more officers in the precincts. It’s the equivalent of an extra car in most precincts every day and every evening.”
Last year, Bratton said he needed "in excess" of 1,000 more officers, but Mayor Bill de Blasio has so far not agreed to that request, saying he'll consider it as the budget gets negotiated.
Bratton said he should have an answer about whether he can grow the NYPD headcount in the coming weeks.