NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said police work and public safety are a partnership between the department and the community at the 47th annual Meeting of the Greater Jamaica Development Corp.
In his talk, which took place at the Jamaica Center for the Performing Arts, Bratton addressed head-on issues of distrust of the NYPD in several of the city’s minority communities.
“We are here to work for you,” he said. “We cannot work for you if you do not work with us.” With that statement Bratton made clear his intentions on working with all elements to make the city better for all its residents.
Bratton confidently said that his goal is to “collaboratively work with all the other elements of the criminal justice system” in order to mitigate any infractions in the community and its residents.
The commissioner took questions in regard to the continuance of the department’s stop, question and frisk practices, which were a major campaign theme in last year’s races for mayor and the City Council.
Under former Commissioner Ray Kelly, stop, question and frisk incidents increased dramatically through 2011 before starting to decline.
Bratton said he and the de Blasio administration have worked together to decrease the number of people being stopped.
Bratton reinforced the directive that officers must be able to articulate the cause for reasonable suspicion when a search is being performed.
On a related matter, the commissioner also mentioned changes he wants to make to Operation Impact. While past practice has been to take rookies fresh out of the Police Academy and flood areas of the city with spikes in crime or traditionally high numbers, the department is considering keeping new cops in the precinct or pairing them with senior officers until they receive permanent assignments.
There are also hopes for new technology being in place under which officers will be using iPads and Tablets to access vital information pertaining to current 911 calls.
The commissioner said the aim is to better inform the officers of a potentially hostile environment.
The most recent political controversy involving the department is a dispute between Mayor de Blasio and the Council over funding and staffing levels, with the Council seeking 1,000 new police officers and de Blasio saying current levels are adequate to keep reducing crime.
Since 2001 New York City has lost over 6,000 police officers, down to a total of 35,000 from 41,000 in 2002.
Bratton said the department has increased the city’s overtime budget for current officers to accommodate this deficit. That decision alone, he said, is equivalent to approximately 2,000 officers per day on patrol.
Although violent crimes are at a low overall, others, such as car thefts, prostitution and vandalism have increased.
“These crimes may not have a direct victim but the victim is the community” Bratton said during his speech.
Addressing vehicular fatalities in the community, Bratton said his goal is to enforce traffic laws.
A recent emphasis on ticketing for texting or using any handheld electronic while driving will continue.
Bratton also stated more technology, police and traffic officers are going to be in rotation as well.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who was in attendance, gave Bratton high marks thus far.
“Whether it’s a small issue of a parking lot or a car that needs to be towed, the police have come to every meeting that we’ve requested,” she said. “And I find that to be a nice change.”
Katz was a fierce critic of what many termed a “Manhattan-centric” focus under the administration of former Mayor Mike Bloomberg.