By Mark Hallum
The 108th Precinct joined many other precincts across the city with the rollout of its Neighborhood Coordination Officers program Monday.
NYPD’s NCO program, launched in 2015, has been a proven approach to reducing crime across the city and mending fences between law enforcement and the communities they serve after policies such as “stop and frisk” created division.
Residents of Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City, all served by the 108th, turned out in force for the introduction of the program at Sunnyside Community Services —located at 43-31 39th St. — and listened to Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison talk about how the specialized group of cops will serve four different sectors of the command.
“If you just take a look at what we’ve seen repeated on a regular basis, New York City is one of the safest cities in the country. People are beginning to take a look at us and say, hey, NYPD, you went from certain types of and a certain amount of crime and now you’re not having those numbers anymore. What is it that you’re doing?” Harrison said. “We’re No. 52 [in the country] when it comes to the murder rate. When you look at other cities that are struggling, we’re doing a pretty good job as a whole.”
The 108th Precinct, under the command of Deputy Inspector Ralph Forgione, was split into four parcels with four NCOs assigned to each.
In the northwestern section of the precinct’s coverage, officers will be assigned to an area divided by Skillman Avenue and Queens Boulevard. The next section will run from Skillman to 43rd Street, with the last two being east of 43rd and divided north and south by Queens Boulevard.
Northern Boulevard forms the northern boundary of the command, while Newtown Creek leads the southern boundary through Maurice Avenue.
The precinct ends around 69th Street in the east.
The NCO program allows residents to reach the officers assigned to their sector by either email, a phone call or a text message. During the community meeting, many residents met the cops who they will be communicating with directly for the first time.
The 108th Precinct’s NCO program is one of the last in the city to be rolled out by NYPD and follows the 111th Precinct in April and 112th in August of this year.
“I’m sure everybody has had a negative situation with the police department; that’s why we’re doing this,” Harrison added.
NCOs go through a special two-week criminal investigation course, followed by other specialized information-gathering and community outreach courses as well as a mediation course.
Harrison said the program was started as a means of mending fences with communities after negative policies such as “stop and frisk” as well as controversial incidents where deadly force had been employed had fractured the relationship between residents and peace officers.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall