By Sarina Trangle
Police Commissioner William Bratton pledged to make collaboration the hallmark of his tenure at the Greater Jamaica Development Corp. annual meeting Wednesday afternoon.
Bratton told a crowded auditorium in the Jamaica Performing Arts Center that support from the city and the development corporation helped initiate a steep dip in crime in southeast Queens and said the Police Department sought to forge similar relationships with communities across the city.
“Neighborhoods like this –– Jamaica, Queens –– were being written off as passé, over,” Bratton said of crime ravaging neighborhoods in the 1990s. “I don’t think there’s an area that has experienced more crime decline than this area… That didn’t just happen.”
He said the NYPD has taken strides to repair relations with minority communities that had grown strained because of an overreliance on stop-and-frisk practices under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bratton noted the department has taken steps to dismantle a counterterrorism unit that Muslims thought was overreaching and had been the subject of a lawsuit. But he said further collaboration was still in order.
“If an inspector general, if a racial profiling bill, if an empowered [Civilian Complaint Review Board] can raise the trust and respect between our residents for their Police Department, then that is a great investment,” he said. “Because the best way we can deal with crime and disorder … is a community that is collaborating with its police force.”
The commissioner noted that an inspector general had been hired and would be staffed with 50 personnel and 50 NYPD employees to supervise the NYPD. He said the city was also paying for a federal monitor mandated by a federal court case that found the NYPD’s use of stop-and-frisk was racially discriminatory and unconstitutional.
But Bratton said he was not thrilled with the City Council’s push to include 1,000 additional officers in the budget. He said it would take until July 2015 to get any new hires out patrolling streets and that the overtime his department now has in lieu of officers allows him to dispatch men and women with greater flexibility.
When asked how Bratton would gauge progress on his community engagement goal, the commissioner said the department planned to have every precinct survey its commands beginning next week and seek feedback.
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.