The latest iteration of neighborhood policing has been kicked off in Bensonhurst, Bath Beach and Gravesend.
The 62nd Precinct debuted the initiative in mid-April, with a formal roll-out — including brass from Brooklyn South and NYPD headquarters — held on Tuesday, April 24 at Seth Low Intermediate School, 99 Avenue P.
The new Neighborhood Coordination Officers (NCOs) have been assigned in pairs to specific sectors within the command, explained Chief Fausto Pichardo, who told his listeners that the officers would be dedicated to their specific sectors, getting to know residents and businesspeople, making their own hours to accommodate specific needs and organizing quarterly meetings of those who work and live within the sector. In total, there are 10 police officers and one sergeant in the 62nd Precinct’s NCO team.
“Neighborhood policing is not a program, it’s a philosophy,” stressed Pichardo who linked the ongoing roll-out of neighborhood policing citywide with the drop in crime across the city that was recorded in 2017.
“This is a shared responsibility,” he said. “Make no mistake about it. The Police Department does great things, but the only way we’re going to progress and do greater things is to work hand in hand with you.”
While the reduction in crime across the seven index crime categories is significant, Pichardo said, “One murder, one shooting or burglary victim is one too many. We can’t stop now and we won’t stop till the numbers hit zero in every single category.”
Among the changes, according to Pichardo, is that the number of sectors in the precinct had been reduced from eight to four. But, because each team of two NCOs is dedicated to a particular sector, the initiative aims to correct a flaw in earlier neighborhood policing programs which was a lack of time for officers to get to know the community in depth, said Pichardo.
“They’re crime fighters first,” he went on. “If you don’t feel safe, are you going to walk the street? They are going to be problem solvers, and they are going to do that hand-in-hand with you.”
The 62nd Precinct’s eight NCOs were “handpicked” from over 100 officers who applied for the post, said Captain Anthony Longobardi, the precinct’s commanding officer, through a “vigorous process.” At the end of the presentation, residents had the opportunity to meet them and introduce themselves.
Beyond the NCOs, the new initiative also provides for what the NYPD refers to as “Steady sector officers,” patrol officers that, Pichardo said, “are permanently assigned to that sector as well. While their main function is to respond to 911 calls, “They will take two hours of of their day to engage the community. They’ll stop, get out of the patrol car, walk down the street.” There will be a team of steady sector officers on each shift.
“We’re here to provide service to the best of our ability. We’re going to engage the community,” he added. “Let us know what we can do better and what concerns you have.”
According to Pichardo, the precinct was the 62nd to receive the program, which was piloted in 2015. It will be in all precincts in the city by year’s end, Pichardo said. In total, there will be 19 more police officers on the street in the 62nd Precinct, he said. Information on sector meetings and the initiative can be found at buildtheblock.nyc.
“We went from an era when we lost trust in certain parts of the city,” Pichardo said, “and we’re gaining that trust back. We’re not there yet, but we are heading in the right direction, and we need your help now more than ever so we can move forward as a city.”