In a sharp break with New York City's crime-fighting policies of the last decade, Police Commissioner William Bratton has told his top chiefs he intends to alter a program that sent waves of rookie officers into crime-ridden neighborhoods, but also inflamed tensions in minority communities, reports the New York Times. At a closed-door meeting, Bratton said that rather than thrusting inexperienced officers into dangerous or highly charged situations, part of a program known as Operation Impact, he envisioned a return to a more traditional approach where rookies would first be placed in local precincts. “I want to change the dynamic of kids coming out of the academy and immediately being put into Operation Impact assignments, where they really have an almost single-minded focus and really don't get a full flavor of the job,” he said. “I think they would benefit from it, working with officers in traditional precinct assignments.”
More experienced officers could serve as mentors, Bratton said, helping the rookies “during that first critical year that they come into the department.” His comments would amount to a major shift in the department's approach to training and to street policing, one called for by Mayor Bill de Blasio during his campaign. For more than a decade, the program had been a rite of passage in the New York Police Department: young officers, fresh out of the academy, flooding the often unfamiliar streets of the city's highest crime neighborhoods. Raymond Kelly, the former police commissioner, credited the program more than almost any other police initiative with keeping the city safe during his tenure, even with cuts to the number of police officers and the new demands of counterterrorism.