When New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced James O’Neill as the next police commissioner, he said he wanted someone who could make neighborhood policing a reality and help ease the distrust that persists between officers and residents in many predominately minority communities, the New York Times reports. De Blasio and O’Neill described their visions of residents being on a first-name basis with the officers who patrol their neighborhoods and even having their cellphone numbers. The goal is that the police and neighborhoods would work together to solve percolating issues before they grow into bigger crimes.
In Far Rockaway, where a test is under way, Councilman Donovan Richards Jr. said that in places patrolled by neighborhood coordination officers, or NCOs, “they are very effective.” While it is difficult to assess the success of the program, crimes that include murders, shootings and robberies have declined in the precincts of the pilot program compared with 2015, a drop that mirrors decreases citywide. The police department, however, has little evidence that the program has helped bridge the searing divide between officers and the public, kindled in recent years by police killings of civilians, especially black men. The department has yet to conduct a long-awaited survey meant to gauge the sentiment of residents. Leaders and activists in Far Rockaway said one reason residents may be unfamiliar with the program could be its size: Of the roughly 200 uniformed officers in the 101st Precinct, just 12 officers and a sergeant are neighborhood coordination officers.