By Tom Momberg

Assistant Police Chief Terrence Monahan presented a progress report on the NYPD’s pilot neighborhood policing effort in the two Rockaway precincts to the Queens Borough Board and Cabinet meeting Monday, which is now rolling out in several other precincts.

Monahan said crime is down over 30 percent in the Rockaways since the department introduced the pilot program about six weeks ago as part of the NYPD’s “One City: Safe and Fair Everywhere” initiative.

The review of the new action plan in the Rockaways came with the announcement that the NYPD is expanding the pilot to other precincts in the Queens South command, to decentralize the department and give more resources and decision-making power to each individual precinct command.

Monahan said four Queens South precincts will serve as a control groups and the others will serve as pilots for implementing new training programs, redrawing precinct sectors, deploying additional vehicles, reassigning sergeants and police officers from special units as neighborhood coordination officers, or NCOs, as has been introduced in the 100th and 101st Precincts.

Now a three-week criminal investigation training course is supposed to be administered for all seasoned officers in those pilot precincts, and a three-day NCO training course will train all newly reassigned officers on communication, crime analysis and social services, so they can be each command’s eyes and ears on the ground, patrolling neighborhoods and high-crime areas 24 hours a day.

“What we have seen though many of the protests in the city over the past year is that there is a disconnect between the police and a lot of the communities that we serve, so part of Commissioner Bratton’s plan, was to create a program in which we can create that trust … we want our cops and communities to be working together,” Monahan said.

The NCOs in each precinct will hold regular neighborhood work groups with residents, business owners and community leaders to identify problems and develop strategies for addressing both crime and quality-of-life issues in each of the participating precincts’ sectors.

The NYPD is calling the new pilot program Centcom, or Central Command, giving borough commands like Queens South the authority to allocate their own resources and personnel based on the intelligence NCOs receive during their stronger community presence, rather than needing to navigate through the department’s centralized bureaucracy.

Centcom, which is being rolled out in the coming weeks in the rest of the so-far unidentified pilot precincts in Queens South, will completely realign the chain of command for Queens South and each of its pilot precincts, giving the borough commander ultimate geographic responsibility, rather than the police chief.

The NYPD said it will re-evaluate the Centcom model every three months starting after the first three months, cross examining crime reduction and police response times in control precincts versus pilot precincts. Eventually the program is to be rolled out in Queens North and the other borough commands if it is successful.

“Queens, you are the testing ground for everything new that Commissioner Bratton has brought out,” Monahan said.

Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomberg@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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