The recent column in The Post calling American police officers “bystanders to chaos” certainly bears zero resemblance to New York policing in 2018.
Why cops are standing down all across America
American policing today is in a state of slow-motion collapse,…
Naysayers living in the past and devoid of their own ideas on modern policing are quick to sound the alarm about returning to the high-crime days of the 1970s and 1980s.
But there’s no sign of it here. And the NYPD is watching — very closely.
Contra critics’ simplistic dismissal, neighborhood policing has our hardworking patrol officers engaging at the most local of levels, to an unprecedented degree. This isn’t some community-policing charade with a handful of special officers glad-handing local activists.
New York City cops are embedding in smaller groups within precincts and getting a granular understanding not only of the residents, but of the problems, the crimes and, specifically, the criminals in those neighborhoods.
Today in New York, our cops are much better equipped to take on local challenges, to go after local criminals, and to continue to have a massive impact on local violence and disorder.
Don’t take my word for it — the facts are undeniable: New York City in 2017 recorded its lowest number of murders and lowest per-capita murder rate since 1951, and its lowest number of shootings on record.
Robbery is at its lowest level since 1965, and neither burglary nor auto theft has been lower since 1950.
In 2015 and 2016, the US murder rate rose nearly 20 percent. Academics will continue to debate the “Ferguson effect,” “de-policing” and other theories as to why that happened. But for evidence of failure, they’ll have to look outside New York City, and well beyond the ranks of the NYPD.
New York policing today means a targeted method of crime-fighting and, judging by its results, a highly effective one.
Our summary enforcement, or police intervention prior to violence, is precisely aimed with respect to the “where, when and who” of crime and disorder in the city. In crime-fighting, an ounce of precision is worth a pound of indiscriminate enforcement.
In New York City, we continue to drive down crime with improved focus and relentless attention to detail, both of which are hallmarks of our neighborhood-policing philosophy.
We know that increased communication between officers and those we serve promotes greater trust and collaboration — and a sharpened focus on the small percentage of people engaged in violence.
On the investigations side, our patrol cops toil in concert with squad detectives to put street-level intel to work. And our focused approach to violent gangs and crews represents an acceleration of targeted investigations by at least an order of magnitude.
Since March 2016, with a new unified investigations model in place, our detectives have closed out case after case and arrested many violent criminals involved in murders, shootings and other violent crimes. Most of these suspects, facing overwhelming evidence of their guilt in court, have either pleaded guilty or been convicted, and now face extended sentences in state or federal prison.
Meanwhile, civilian complaints against NYPD officers are down, and officer firearm discharges have plummeted. As cops use less force and engage more, the police and community partnership is helping drive crime down.
When New York City went from 2,245 homicides in 1990 to 292 in 2017, observers said we had hit the floor on how far we could drive down crime. When we had fewer than 100,000 total index crimes last year (96,517) for the first time since 1957, pundits claimed we couldn’t go any lower.
But at the NYPD, we know better.
We know that significantly fewer arrests, summonses and street stops is not a step backward — it’s a path to an even safer city.
Even in this low-crime era, the NYPD is committed to paying scrupulous attention to changing conditions in every neighborhood across our city and sustaining a powerful sense of urgency about preventing the next violent act.
This is our way forward.
And this is how everyone who lives, works and plays in New York City — sharing the responsibility for public safety with their police — will be able to enjoy the peace of mind that can only be delivered by the highest quality of life possible.
James P. O’Neill is New York Police Department commissioner.