NYPD’s top cop comes to Ridgewood to tout success of neighborhood policing

Photo by Mark Hallum

Police Commissioner James O’Neill was at the Ridgewood Y with Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and NYPD brass Monday to boast of the successes of neighborhood policing.

The discussion touched on the rollout of the Neighborhood Coordination Officers program in the 104th Precinct and the arrest of a Jackson Heights man associated with the Proud Boys incident on the Upper East Side on Oct. 12.

The event was part of “City Hall in Your Borough” week, an annual event in which Mayor Bill de Blasio visits each of the five boroughs and conducts city business within communities across the city. De Blasio did not attend the Monday afternoon press conference.

Katz mentioned that when the NCO was piloted, two precincts in Queens were chosen for the trial run including the 100th and 101st precincts, both based on the Rockaway peninsula.

“As neighborhood policing has been gradually diffused across the city, we’re seeing that this model is helping to fuel the continued reduction of crime citywide,” Katz said. “Neighborhood policing makes it so that cops can become part of the community.”

Queens may have been the first borough to get the NCO program, but it is also among the last to see a complete rollout with the 104th Precinct based in Ridgewood finally adding the program this week.

The NCO initiative divides the command into four sectors and assigns four cops to each. The program does not take officers off patrol, but actually adds personnel to the precincts with new officers coming onboard.

Officers chosen as NCOs are often already serving in the precinct and residents within their sector will be able to reach them directly via cellphone, email or official Facebook and Twitter accounts.

A community meeting at Christ the King High School in Middle Village was the venue for the 104th’s rollout of the program later Monday night where residents met the men and women who would be in direct contact with them regarding various issues.

C-Pop, Impact, Sector Assignments and 911 calls for service are all models of engagement used by NYPD from the 1990s onward, according to Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison, but these strategies did not put the same officers in the same parts of the command every day, he said.

“We never get to know the people. We only know the people dialing 911,” Harrison said to about 60 people in attendance at the Community introductions.

One attendee asked if the sector lines are drawn based on race, but NYPD said this was not a factor, although bilingual officers may be assigned to certain sectors in order to communicate with the people in those neighborhoods.

NYPD Queens Borough Commander Juanita Holmes talked about her time as an African-American woman serving in the most diverse county in United States and assured audience members the NCOs are “culturally competent,” as one resident asked.

“Every single cop gets a host of training,” Holmes said. “[Cultural competency] has to be one of our skill-sets.”

Robert Monahan, president of the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council, also touted the benefits of the NCO program.

“The NCO is a response to people feeling like something was done to them. Instead the NCO will make them feel as though things are done with them,” Monahan said. “As president of the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council, I have spent nearly three decades trying to develop and build those alternatives and solutions. The mission of the GRYC is to improve the quality of life for kids throughout Queens, and that mission mirrors that of the NYPD.”

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