A New Patrol Paradigm
The cornerstone of today’s NYPD is Neighborhood Policing, a comprehensive crime-fighting strategy built on improved communication and collaboration between local police officers and community residents. Neighborhood Policing greatly increases connectivity and engagement with the community without diminishing, and, in fact, improving the NYPD’s crime-fighting capabilities.
The NYPD has long encouraged officers to strengthen bonds with the communities they patrol, but past practice in precincts left little time or opportunity for true community engagement. In recent years, the Patrol Services Bureau has systematically reorganized its patrol methods to achieve the goal of establishing Neighborhood Policing in every precinct, citywide, by 2019.
What’s in a Sector?
Neighborhood Policing divides precincts into four or five fully-staffed sectors that correspond, as much as possible, to the boundaries of actual established neighborhoods. The same officers work in the same neighborhoods on the same shifts, increasing their familiarity with local residents and local problems. The radio dispatchers, supervisors, and sector officers work together to maintain “sector integrity,” meaning that the sector officers and sector cars do not leave the boundaries of their assigned sectors, except in precinct-wide emergencies.
Neighborhood Policing is sufficiently staffed to permit off-radio time for the sector officers, so they are not exclusively assigned to answering calls for service. Their off-radio time is used to engage with neighborhood residents, identify local problems, and work toward solutions. The sector officer plays the role of a generalist cop who knows and feels responsible for the sector, and who provides the full range of policing services there.
Supporting the sector officers and filling out each sector’s team are two officers designated as the neighborhood coordination officers (NCOs). The NCOs serve as liaisons between the police and the community, but also as key crime-fighters and problem-solvers in the sector. They familiarize themselves with residents and their problems by attending community meetings with neighborhood leaders and clergy, visiting schools, following up on previous incidents, and using creative techniques and adaptive skills.
NCOs are adding a new dimension to the NYPD’s crime-fighting capabilities. They function as adjuncts to the local detective squads, responding swiftly to breaking incidents and developing leads and evidence that might have been missed under the old patrol model. Most importantly, they feel a sense of belonging and responsibility that fosters a willingness to do whatever it takes to keep the neighborhood safe and secure.