Does the community play an active role in maintaining a safe neighborhood? NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks III said it should but it doesn’t always happen.
“There are a lot of individuals who are looking for progress in their communities and it’s refreshing to come across communities that support the police and that the police can work with and realize that the police and the community are not two separate entities but that they are actually entwined as one,” Banks said at the June 112th Precinct Community Council meeting last Wednesday.
Council President Heidi Chain, who has been a longtime friend of Banks, invited the second highest ranked officer in the police department to address the community on what makes good policing and residents were not afraid to share their thoughts with the Chief.
“I have never met a more caring and committed person than Captain Conforti and the officers at the 112,"” one man said. “They are fantastic and you should know that.”
Capt. Thomas Conforti, the commanding officer of the 112th Precinct, did not speak much during the meeting but has mentioned, in the past, the importance of partnering with the community.
Crime in the 112th Precinct, like much of the city, has been on the decline. Except for a small spike in robberies which have been occurring fewer and further between and small quality-of-life issues, the confines of the precinct are quite safe.
Banks attributed much of the decline to the increase in communication between civilians and police officers.
“If you go back to the ’80s when there were shootings and a lot of crime all over the city, you know that’s not an area that we don’t want to go back to,” Banks said. “We want to go out of our homes and not feel unsafe in our communities and a large part of that is developing these relationships.”
After he spoke for 20 minutes or so, attendees were permitted to ask questions, though many just took the opportunity to praise the work of the 112th Precinct.
There was one individual who was curious where Banks and Conforti stood on Ask, Stop and Frisk, the controversial policy that permits officers to search suspicious individuals.
“Let’s just say that if this law was not in effect, some of the arrests made here would have never been made,” Conforti said.
Banks gave a similar response.
Afterwards, Conforti awarded the cop of the month honor to three officers responsible for arresting serial robbers. Banks closed by stressing that a better city will soon be on the horizon if we work together.
“With all of our technology, with all of our training and resources, those are all support systems,” Banks said. “The engine is the relationship between the police and the community. What can derive when we are in sync with each other could make sure the old days when crime was high stay in the past and we can soon live in a utopian state, which is something we all deserve.”
Banks’ last statement was met by an eruption of applause from the crowd which he modestly accepted before leaving.