The New York Police Department will deploy dozens of officers to commercial districts in Manhattan as part of New York City’s push to encourage the return of workers to offices and help tourism rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic, reports the Wall Street Journal. The department’s business district recovery initiative detail will provide an additional police presence in any business community south of 59th Street, where business leaders said the quality of life in some corridors has deteriorated during the pandemic. The additional officers will help to change the perception that the areas are unsafe and combat a rise in public drug use, vandalism and aggressive panhandling. In the coming weeks, the new NYPD detail will work with businesses to identify areas in need of added patrols, police officials said. The detail will also provide community outreach, assist in responding to people in emotional distress and work with the city’s Department of Homeless Services to aid homeless people. NYPD statistics show that assaults, robberies, auto thefts and burglaries have risen this year in the Midtown South police precinct.
A spokesman for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said social-service agencies are taking the lead in outreach, and the NYPD’s new detail is a specially trained police unit to assist in anything city workers need. Only 10 percent of Manhattan office workers had returned to their desks by early March, according to a survey from the Partnership for New York City, a business group representing private-sector employers. Last week city officials announced that they would launch a $30 million campaign to revive tourism, which plummeted during the pandemic. A record 66.6 million tourists visited the city in 2019, according to NYC & Company, the city’s official tourism organization. That figure fell to 22.3 million in 2020, but NYC & Company has projected it would increase to 36.4 million in 2021.